Monday, January 24, 2011

Americans for the Arts NATIONAL ARTS INDEX Falls to Lowest Point ever.

Good morning.

“And the beat goes on…………….”

Released yesterday (and thanks to Randy Cohen) here is AFTA's latest Arts Index data.  No surprises really, but sobering and much to consider.


In 2009, the National Arts Index fell 3.6 points to a score of 97.7, the lowest point reached in the 12 years measured and the largest single-year change recorded. Losses during the 2007-2009 recession nearly doubled the gains made between 2003-2007 (-6.2 percent vs. +3.9 percent, respectively). This reflects declining attendance at larger cultural institutions and is compounded by losses in charitable giving—all of this as the number of nonprofit arts organizations continues to grow. In any given year, some indicators are up and others are down. In 2007, half of the indicators rose; in 2008 one-third were up; and in 2009, just one-quarter increased.

Key Findings from the National Arts Index:
1. The arts follow the nation’s business cycle. The Index is high when Consumer Confidence and GDP growth is high. As has been widely known by artists and arts organizations, demand for arts and cultural activity decreased during the recession. Figure A shows the dramatic decline of the Index during the two recent economic downturns.

2. The fortunes of the arts affect a great many people. While it may be no surprise that the arts track the economy, most people are unaware of the size of the sector: 109,000 nonprofit arts organizations and 550,000 more arts businesses, 2.2 million artists in the U.S. workforce, and billions of dollars in consumer spending. The arts are a significant social and economic force.

3. As a broad-based consumer sector, the arts are struggling to compete. The public’s spending on the arts has remained in the $150-$160 billion range, though it slipped steadily since 2002 in terms of share of all expenditures (from 1.88 percent to 1.57 percent). Inevitably, as people lost jobs and had their housing threatened, their expenditures on arts and culture, a discretionary expense, went down, too.

4. Growth in the number of nonprofit arts organizations and arts businesses. 2009 was the first year of the 12 Index years reported that saw a slight decrease in the number of artists, arts businesses, and arts-related employment. The number of new nonprofit arts organizations, however, continues to grow annually—and even grew in number by 3,000 during the 2007-2009 recession years. That one out of three failed to achieve a balanced budget even during the strongest economic years of this decade suggests that sustaining this capacity is a growing challenge and these gains are at risk. Putting this growth into context, in the past decade, nonprofit arts organizations have grown 45 percent (75,000 to 109,000), a greater rate than all nonprofit organizations, which grew 32 percent (1,203,000 to 1,581,000). Or to look at it another way, between 2003 and 2009, a new nonprofit arts organization was created every three hours in the U.S.

5. Arts nonprofits have continued to struggle, with varying degrees of success. More nonprofit arts organizations are ending the year with a deficit—41 percent in 2008, which is more than the 36 percent from 2007. In both years, larger-budget organizations were more likely to run a deficit, though no specific arts discipline is particularly more likely to run a deficit. Even during the more prosperous years of the decade, more than 1-in-3 ran a deficit.

6. Arts and culture is losing its market share of philanthropy to other charitable areas, such as human services and health. It is noteworthy that this decline began well before the current economic downturn. The share of all philanthropy going to the arts has dropped from 4.9 percent to 4.0 percent over the past decade. If the arts sector merely maintained its 4.9 percent share from 2001, it would have received $14.9 billion in contributions in 2009, instead of $12.34 billion—a $2.5 billion difference.

7. Demand for arts in education is up. The percentage of college college-bound seniors with 4 years of arts or music has grown steadily over the past decade—from 15 percent to 20 percent of all SAT test takers—a confounding finding to researchers given the evidence of K-12 decreases in arts education overall, and suggesting to researchers a significant educational equity gap. College arts degrees conferred annually have risen steadily from 75,000 to 127,000 in the past decade. Reasons for this include an increase in design degrees and more double-majors, such as science and music. This is promising news for business leaders looking for an educated and creative workforce.

Continuing Trends from the 2009 Index:
• How the public participates in and consumes the arts is ever-expanding. Tens of millions of people attend concerts, plays, operas, and museum exhibitions every year—and those that go usually attend more than once. While attendance numbers at artistic institutions has remained relatively flat over the past decade, the percentage of the U.S. population attending these arts events is shrinking, and the decline is noticeable. Between 2003 and 2009, the percentage of the population attending art museums and performing arts events both decreased (-19 percent and -22 percent, respectively).

• Americans are seeking more personal engagement in their arts participation. Personal arts creation and arts volunteerism is growing. The number of Americans who personally participated in an artistic activity—making art, playing music—rose 5 percent between 2005 and 2009. During the same period of time, the number of people volunteering for the arts has jumped 11.6 percent. One of the fastest growing areas of interest in the arts is culturally and ethnically diverse arts organizations, which have doubled in a decade (from 4,806 to 9,609).

• Technology is having dramatic effects, which is both encouraging and concerning. In just the past five years nearly half of the nation’s CD and record stores have disappeared, while online downloads of music singles have grown seven-fold to more than one billion units annually. In 2009, digital formats comprised a record 41 percent of total music sales in the United States, up from 34 percent in 2008, and 25 percent in 2007. Savvy nonprofit arts organizations are using technology to broaden their audience base and enrich the audience experience. For example, the Metropolitan Opera simulcasts 12 operas to 1,500 theaters in 46 countries—a program that sold an additional 2.4 million tickets last year alone. Also, the Washington National Opera’s annual simulcast at the Washington Nationals’ baseball stadium attracts 20,000 fans.

Noteworthy Changes in the Past Year:
• Arts employment in the arts remained strong, especially when compared to labor market difficulties facing all sectors of the economy. A variety of labor market indicators in the Index report show relatively steady levels of compensation and employment.

 Self-employment is strong, with evidence that the artist-entrepreneur—active as poet, painter, musician, dancer, actor, and in many other artistic disciplines—is alive and well, growing every year between 2000 and 2008 (from 509,000 to 676,000).

 There was a 17 percent increase in the number of working artists from 1996 to 2009 (1.9 to 2.2 million). Artists remained a steady 1.5 percent share of the total civilian workforce.

 Arts worker wages kept pace with inflation and showed slight real growth, to about $49,000.

 Songwriter/composer royalties grew from 2003 to 2009, from $1.27 billion to $1.66 billion, a 30-percent increase over a six-year span, even after adjusting for inflation

• New work and innovation. Arts organizations are settings for artistic entrepreneurship—homes to new ideas and imaginative and innovative leaders. One measure of the Index is the number of premiere performances and films. While there was a 5 percent decrease in this measure between 2008 and 2009, it is still 14 percent higher than in 2005. In 2009, audiences were treated to an impressive 1,022 new opera, theater, film and symphony premieres.

• Government arts funding is mixed. Federal funding to the National Endowment for the Arts increased to $155 million in funding in 2009, which is just a portion of the $1.96 billion in total federal arts spending. As a share of the federal domestic discretionary budget, however, total arts funding dropped from 0.42 percent to 0.36 percent, between 2002 and 2009. Many arts programs are also immersed in the budgets of other federal agencies such as GSA, Transportation, and Defense (which boasts vigorous music programs throughout the armed services), but are not included in these totals. In contrast to the federal government, state and local arts funding are decreasing at a rate of about 10 percent per year.

• U.S. cultural destinations help grow the U.S. economy by attracting foreign visitor spending. Effectively, cultural tourism by foreign visitors is a form of export by domestic arts and culture industries. Since 2003, there has been a 23 percent increase in the number of tourists who fly to the U.S. and attend arts activities as a part of their visit. These data are tracked by the U.S. Department of Commerce and is evidence of the economic benefits to be reaped from an investment in the arts. Areas tracked include Art Gallery/Museums, Concert/Play/Musicals, Cultural Heritage Sites, Ethnic Heritage Sites, American Indian Community, and Historical Places.

Five New Indicators in 2010:
1. Record company sales are slipping at the retail cash register, according to data newly added to the Index from Soundscan (see indicator #8).

2. The popular music concert industry has had significant growth since the late 1990s. Pollstar Magazine, the most reliable source of concert industry data, gathers raw data on almost 35,000 concert events each year. All things considered, the 2000s have been a healthy decade for the industry. Increased grosses in 2009 distinguish this industry from some other arts industries that suffered more in the economic downturn. (#9)

3. From Books in Print, we measured the number of books published annually that are coded with the terms “music,” “theatre,” “dance,” or “art.” Overall, there was an increase of about 20 percent—from under 17,000 to over 19,000—between 1999 and 2009. (#36)

4. A new measure of corporate philanthropy from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy corroborates the Conference Board’s findings that arts support declined steadily from 2006 through 2009, from 8.0 to 6.2 percent of total corporate giving. (#66)

5. Visual art performs as well as Standard and Poor’s 500 over the long haul . . . Since 1958, the Mei-Moses All Art Index shows that art has generated as investment returns equal to the Standard and Poor’s 500 Stock Index—a 100-fold increase (#78).

Have a good week.

Don’t Quit.

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