Survey Reveals Attitudes on Arts Education, Government Funding

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The link between robust K-12 arts education today and a vibrant performing arts community tomorrow is easy to understand. Today’s students who are taught to explore, embrace and appreciate the arts are tomorrow’s actresses, musicians,  stage & sound technicians, costume & lighting designers and – importantly – ticket-buying audience members and tax-paying citizens.

Earlier this month, Americans for the Arts released the results of a public opinion poll commissioned in December 2015 on the topics of arts education and government funding for the arts. More than 3,000 adults were surveyed; this week’s blog will touch on some highlights culled from the summary press release:

arts funding

“Overwhelming Support” for Arts Education

  • 89% believe the arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education (55% strongly agree while only 7% disagree).
  • 90% agree that it’s important for students to receive arts education that includes dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts throughout their K-12 education.
  • Yet, 27% believe that their community’s students don’t have enough arts access, especially in suburbs and rural areas.

More Government Arts Funding Needed

  • 57% support local – and 55% state – government funding grants to artists and arts organizations.
  • Only 26% believe that current government arts funding is just right, while 43% say it’s insufficient.
  • 54% of respondents support an increase from the current 45 cents to $1.00 per person on federal grants to arts organizations.
  • 36% say they would vote for a candidate in favor of this funding increase, while an additional 35% said that it would not impact their vote. Only 17% said they would vote against a candidate who voted to increase arts funding.

Important on Many Levels

We applaud the work of Americans for the Arts in advocating for these important causes, particularly in an election year when the future of our government and public policy is in the civic spotlight. (Another phase of survey results will be announced later this spring.)

Two of our earlier blogs cited this organization’s Local Arts Index and National Arts Index, which measure the texture of arts and culture in our society on different levels. The Local Arts Index examines participation and support at the county level, following four dimensions: Arts Activity, Resources, Competitiveness and Local Cultural Character. The National Index aggregates numerous indicators.

While the creative nature of the arts doesn’t naturally lend itself to summary statistics or measurable metrics, arts organizations and concerned citizens fluent in the numerical language of polling and public opinion can work more effectively as advocates for desired arts funding and policy changes.

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