New Study Paints Grim Picture of the Arts Industry

WASHINGTON, DC — The first National Arts Index, a study eleven years in the making, was released Wednesday by the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in the United States, Americans for the Arts. From 1998 to 2008, the survey scored 76 indicators, including music royalties, Broadway ticket sales, museum visits, philanthropy and the number of college art majors, to measure the health and vitality of the arts industries in the United States.

The Index score for 2008 was 98.4, the lowest overall, and a 4.2% decrease from the previous year. The highest Index score of 105.5 was measured in 1999.

Americans for the Arts, National Arts Index
The first National Arts Index released Jan. 20 shows America's artists and arts businesses fell into their biggest slump in more than a decade in 2008. The highest Index score was measured in 1999. [Credit: Americans for the Arts]

Key findings of the National Arts Index:
■ The number of nonprofit arts groups grew from 73,000 to 104,000 since 1998 - at the rate of one every three hours between 2003 to 2008. Still, one out of three failed to break even on their budgets, even in the best economic years.
■ The arts follow the nation's business cycle and depend on billions of dollars in consumer spending. Researchers predict the arts "may not 'hit bottom' until 2011" when a rebound will begin.
■ Public participation in the arts is increasing on the Internet, at ethnically and culturally specific organizations and at home as people create their own art. Attendance at mainstream arts organizations is in a steady decline.
■ Arts and cultural groups are losing market share of philanthropy to other charitable causes, including international, environmental and disaster relief.
■ Demand for arts education is up as more college-bound high school seniors are completing four years of arts and music, and the number of college art degrees conferred annually has grown by 45,000 over the past decade.
The National Arts Index will be released annually in October.

In the following podcast, listen as Randy Cohen, Vice President of Local Arts Advancement for Americans for the Arts, discusses the new National Arts Index, how it was created and why it's so important for the industry.

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