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NEA Research Explores Arts Participation among People with Disabilities

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Jul 14, 2015

In an effort to provide information on the arts participation habits of U.S. adults with disabilities – a population of nearly 28 million – the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has published A Matter of Choice? Arts Participation Patters of Disabled Americans.

The analysis finds that while adults with disabilities are underrepresented in numerous arts audiences (e.g. performing arts and visual arts), the cohort is highly engaged in terms of both observing and creating art. Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • In 2012, 23.3 percent of U.S. adults with disabilities (or 6.2 million people) attended a live performing arts event, 14 percent below the share of all U.S. adults who attended live concerts, plays, and dance performances (37.3 percent) in the same year.
  • Nontraditional art venues are attractive to adults with disabilities, who are just as likely as adults in general to attend an art exhibit or a live performing arts event if it takes place in a place of worship.
  • Adults with disabilities are just as likely as all Americans to create visual art and do creative writing. They are more likely than adults in general to create fiber arts such as weaving or quilting.
  • Although 45 percent of people with disabilities are older adults (65+years old), age appears to be less of a factor in their arts participation than are educational level and childhood arts experiences.


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This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education. www.nationalguild.org