Americans are Highly Engaged in the Arts

A Majority Believe That the Arts Promote Personal Well-Being, Help Us Understand Other Cultures in Our Community, Are Essential to a Well-Rounded K-12 Education, and That Government Has an Important Role in Funding the Arts

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Marie-Pierre Lemay Senior Account Manager, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, September 27, 2018 — Nationally, Americans are highly engaged in the arts and believe more strongly than ever that the arts promote personal well-being, help us understand other cultures in our community, are essential to a well-rounded K-12 education, and that government has an important role in funding the arts. According to a recent online survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Americans for the Arts, roughly half say that they are personally involved in artistic activities (47 percent) – with painting, photography, sewing, and playing an instrument among the most common. These results are on par with findings from the 2015 benchmark survey where 49 percent of Americans reported they were personally involved in the arts.

The survey also found that seven in ten have attended an arts event in the past year (72 percent), such as the theater, zoo or botanical garden, historic site, or musical performance. Overall attendance at arts events is up slightly compared to 2015 (68 percent). The arts are being enjoyed outside of the traditional arts institutions, with seven in ten saying they have experienced the arts in a "non-arts" venue such as a park, hospital, shopping mall, or airport in the past year.

When it comes to contributing to the arts, one in four have donated money to an arts or cultural organization, such as a museum, community arts center, or a public broadcasting station (24 percent) – on par with the volume of reported donations made in 2015 (27 percent).

Individuals and Communities Alike Benefit from the Arts

The arts are seen to have a positive impact on how individuals feel about themselves and their communities - and data suggests that positive attitudes and opinions towards the arts have intensified in recent years when compared to results from 2015. When it comes to the arts impacting individuals personally, 68 percent agree that the arts have a positive effect on their health and well-being. A similar proportion (69 percent) of the adult population say the arts help lift them up beyond everyday experiences, and 73 percent feel the arts give them pure pleasure to experience and participate in.

  • The arts also have an impact on individuals’ professional lives, with 60 percent of employed adults saying that the more creative and innovative they are at their job, the more successful they are in the workplace.

Most also believe that the arts strengthen community relations. 73 percent agree that the arts help them understand other cultures better and another 72 percent agree the arts unify us, regardless of age, race, and ethnicity. For eight in ten, the arts represent a positive experience in a troubled world.

  • The arts are also seen to benefit specific groups within the community, with many saying the arts can help students to perform better academically (74 percent), improve healing/the healthcare experience for patients (68 percent), and help military personnel transition back to civilian life (46 percent).

Seven in ten (71 percent) see the arts as improving the quality/livability of their community, and another 70 percent agree the arts have improved the image and identity of their own community. Regardless of whether they attend or not, 90 percent believe having facilities such as museums, theaters, and concert halls is important to their community’s quality of life.

However, fewer (50 percent) agree that everyone in their community has equal access to the arts – though this has gone up slightly since 2015 (45 percent).

The American Public Overwhelmingly Supports Arts Education

Keeping in line with results seen in 2015, Americans continue to display indisputable support for arts education at all levels (grades kindergarten through 12) as well as for those out of school in the community.

  • Education ranks fourth when it comes to important issues facing communities (42 percent) - behind only jobs/the economy, affordable housing, and public safety/crime.
  • Education is most likely to be seen as benefitting from artistic solutions, with 75 percent agreeing the arts can offer creative strategies that can improve education issues. Another 83 percent favor government funding the arts to address education issues (vs. 8 percent who oppose).

An overwhelming majority of the American public (91 percent) agrees that the arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education - including 61 percent who strongly agree. This marks a slight upward trend, where 88 percent said the same thing in 2015. More than nine in 10 American adults further believe that it is important for students to receive an education in the arts - including dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts – from the time they are in elementary school (94 percent) to middle school (94 percent) to high school (93 percent). The value of arts education is not limited to just the in-school experience. 89 percent agree with the importance of the arts for those outside of the classroom and throughout the community (vs. 83 percent in 2015).

The American Public Views Government Funding for the Arts Favorably

The majority view government funding for the arts favorably, approving of their local and state governments funding grants to artists and arts organizations (60 percent and 58 percent, respectively). Another 54 percent approve of the federal government providing funding for nonprofits arts organizations. However, approval is greatest when funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts agency (64 percent).

American adults are more likely to think that the government is currently not spending enough on nonprofit arts organizations (40 percent) than spending too much (12 percent) or just the right amount (25 percent).

  • It comes as no surprise that just over half (53 percent) would approve the federal government increasing spending from 45 cents to $1 per person (on par with 2015, 55 percent) – with support especially strong in Florida (63 percent), Arizona (61 percent) and Tennessee (58 percent).

Support for funding of varied arts programs is high, with Americans in favor of funding programs that provide arts/culture opportunities for the elderly (80 percent), promote pro-social behavior with at-risk youth (77 percent), and aid returning military personnel (77 percent). Funding for programs seeking to provide art in parks, downtown areas, or other public places (79 percent) or to improve blighted or abandoned areas (73 percent) are also viewed favorably.

All else being equal, Americans are twice as likely to vote in favor (37 percent) than to vote against (18 percent) a candidate who wanted to increase federal spending on the arts to $1 per capita. Young adults (age 18-34) are especially likely to vote in favor of this increase - 49 percent vs. 11 percent who oppose it.

About the Study

These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted May 9 - 16, 2018 on behalf of Americans for the Arts. For the survey, a sample of 3,023 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. The national sample was supplemented with a boost sample made up of adults living in the following eight states (roughly 300 interviews completed per each state): Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Maine, Montana, Nevada, and Tennessee. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ±2.0 percentage points for all respondents surveyed, and ±6.5 percentage points for the state specific surveys.
The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity and income.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=3,023, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=3.5 for all respondents surveyed and 8.0 for the state specific surveys).

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

Marie-Pierre Lemay
Senior Account Manager, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 613 793-1622
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.
Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,782.7 million in 2016.

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Marie-Pierre Lemay Senior Account Manager, US, Public Affairs