The Common Good
May-June 2003

Reggae to Rachmaninoff

by Rose Marie Berger, Kate Bowman | May-June 2003

For too long civic participation in the arts has been viewed as the domain of the
wealthy, but a new study by the Urban Institute suggests otherwise.

For too long civic participation in the arts has been viewed as the domain of the wealthy, but a new study by the Urban Institute suggests otherwise. While most studies cover only classical arts like opera, ballet, professional theater, and museum-based visual art, the Urban Institute expanded the definition of arts to include, among other things, ethnic celebrations, street and community theater, and rock concerts. They discovered that a broader definition of the arts revealed a dramatically higher participation across socioeconomic lines. Here is what else they found:

A majority of those surveyed in Kansas City indicated that they most frequently attend arts events to get together with friends or to support a friend or family member.

Frequent participants in arts and culture also tend to be very active in civic and political activities, regardless of income level.

Ninety-two percent of those surveyed said they attended art and cultural events in venues not normally devoted to their presentation, especially parks and streets.

People who attended religious services at least once in the last year were almost three times more likely to have attended art and cultural events in that year than people who did not attend religious services.

Source: "Reggae to Rachmaninoff: How and Why People Participate in Arts and Culture" (The Urban Institute).

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