Americans for the Arts today released Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018, one of the largest national public opinion surveys of American perceptions and attitudes towards the arts and arts funding. The new research demonstrates that Americans continue to be highly engaged in the arts and believe more strongly than ever that the arts promote personal well-being, help us understand other cultures, are essential to a well-rounded education, and that government has an important role in funding the arts.
A national sample of 3,023 adults were polled online by Ipsos in May 2018 on topics such as the importance of arts education, support for government arts funding, personal engagement in the arts, and personal and community benefits that come from engaging in the arts. The last public opinion poll by Americans for the Arts was conducted in 2015.
Key findings from Americans Speak Out About the Arts in 2018 include:
Americans show overwhelming support for arts education. 
  • 91 percent believe the arts are part of a well-rounded education for K-12 students.
  • Nine in ten believe it is important for students to receive an education in the arts, including dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts. This remains true whether asked about elementary school (94 percent), middle school (94 percent), or high school (93 percent) education.
The arts give the nation’s communities identity and unity. 
  • 73 percent agree the arts help them understand other cultures better, an 11 percent increase compared to 2015.
  • 72 percent believe the arts unify communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity, up from 67 percent during the past two years. These quality-of-life and well-being benefits are not limited to the wealthy, educated, or a racial or ethnic group; they cut across all demographics.
Americans are highly engaged in the arts and experience them in unexpected places.
  • 72 percent report attending an arts or cultural event during the previous year, such as the theater, museum, zoo, or a musical performance. Consistent with previous studies, higher attendance rates are found with higher education and income.
  • 70 percent say they enjoyed the arts in a “non-traditional” venue, such as a performance in the park, exhibitions in a hospital or shopping mall, or an art installation in an airport.
The arts improve personal well-being and provide meaning to citizens’ lives. 
  • 69 percent of the population believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences”; 73 percent feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in”; and 81 percent say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world.”
Government funding for the arts is viewed favorably. 
  • 64 percent of Americans approve arts funding by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additionally, 60 percent of Americans approve of arts funding by local government; 58 percent by state government; and 54 percent by federal government.
  • The majority of Americans would approve of increasing federal government spending on nonprofit arts organizations from 45 cents to $1 per person (53 percent approve versus 22 percent who disapprove).
“We are better people with the arts in our lives. We are healthier, more creative, and actively engaged citizens who feel better about today and more optimistic about tomorrow,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “In a society struggling to find equity and social justice, the American public understands that, even in challenging times, the arts make our communities healthier, stronger, and more vibrant. The survey also makes clear that positive attitudes and opinions toward the arts have intensified in recent years when compared to results from 2015.”
The last public opinion poll for Americans for the Arts was conducted by Ipsos in December 2015 and published in 2016. Those results can be viewed here.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.