Thursday, June 18, 2009
In Defense of the Funny
So, the NEA just released the preliminary results of the 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts
The survey is done in partnership with the US Census and has been done 5 times since 1982. This time the results show a decline in arts participation in general, and perhaps most notably a decline among older, educated adults. The full results will be released this fall, but the handwringing has already begun about what this means for arts participation in America. Is the internet ruining art? Are more people considering the arts a luxury in a bad economy? Valid questions, to be sure, and ones we should be taking quite seriously.
But I would also add the question - is our definition of art out of date? You can look at the survey instrument here. Here's some questions I think are missing:
Have you attended a comedy club in the last 12 months?
Have you attended a sketch comedy or improv show in the last 12 months?
Have you attended a live rock or hip-hop concert or festival in the last 12 months?
Have you purchased local fashion or attended a show by local designers in the last 12 months?
Have you attended a spoken word event in the last 12 months?
Certainly there is value in comparable data over time - on the other hand, we need to make sure that we are expanding our definition of art experiences as audiences change and grow. One of the places I've seen the elusive "under 25" demographic consistently is at comedy and improv. This article on MPR last week reported that live music is thriving in the Twin Cities, despite the economic conditions.
It behooves us in the arts community to make "the arts" a big tent, so that those who attend comedy, or popular music, or fashion consider themselves arts supporters. Part of the problem the arts community is facing right now is that fewer people identify themselves as participating in the arts and by asking questions only about traditional art forms, we reinforce that idea. Instead we should be helping people see all the art in their lives.
This is a nice looking feature, but it seems to be broken for me. I attempted the import, I provided my yahoo credentials, I agree to allow access to yahoo and I am shown a list of my delicious bookmarks. When I click the 'Import Checked Items' an error is displayed. "an error occurred parseerror: undefined.Post a Comment
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