State of the Arts: Behind the NEA Survey

Audio: Listen to the Podcast Version of this Event Below

Thursday, October 03, 2013

An annoying audience member (

All the people clamoring to get into Broadway shows like "Wicked" and "The Book of Mormon" – or museum shows like the Rain Room at MoMa – are apparently the exception, rather than the rule. That's the conclusion of a new survey of public participation released last week by the National Endowment for the Arts. It shows an overall decline in arts consumption by Americans, with a particular drop-off in museum and theater attendance. There were smaller dips in classical music and ballet audiences too. But it wasn't all gloom and doom: Audiences are growing more racially and ethnically diverse.  And there are hints that technology is playing a larger role in how we consume culture.

On Oct. 3, Conducting Business brought a group of prominent arts leaders to The Greene Space to explore these recent findings and their implications. Joining us were Oskar Eustis, artistic director of New York’s Public Theater; Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater; Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras; Anne Midgette, classical music critic of the Washington Post, and Graham Parker, general manager of WQXR. Naomi Lewin hosted the event, of which the archived video is below.


What do you think is behind the decline in audiences? What can arts organizations do to attract new patrons? Please leave your comments in the box at the bottom of this page, or Tweet us at @WQXR.

Below are three salient findings from the NEA's Survey of Public Participation in the Arts:

Please leave your questions in the comments box below, or Tweet us at @WQXR #NEASPPA.


Brian Wise


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Comments [3]

Lynn David from Red Bank, NJ

As a retiree who lives in the NYC metro area I attend all sorts of concerts/opera/theater etc. and take my grandkids with me whenever possible....choose the right vehicle and the kids will love it and are not intimidated by the experience and will grow up attending as a matter of routine life experience. It's easy to allow the arts to be something elite...don't know how to dress or act so don't go...get and keep the kids involved so they are comfortable with the event, whichever one it is.

Oct. 05 2013 02:07 PM
Ben Day from Rumson, NJ

The arts are not simply "entertainment". They are important opportunities for Lifelong Learning. For example, Joyce DiDonato's Julliard Master Classes are presented online, and they should be required viewing for opera audiences as well as opera performers.

Oct. 03 2013 01:40 PM
Christopher Purdy from Columbus OH

Oskar's comment is right on, equating a decline in box office sales to economic disparaty and the new sense of "entitlement" that has over taken the arts. Remember, opera was developed 400 as popular entertainment. Programming today is often not welcoming, or if you don't like something you are made to feel deficient. Rock on!

Oct. 03 2013 12:16 PM

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About Conducting Business

WQXR looks deeper into the issues affecting the classical music landscape. 

Conducting Business is hosted by Naomi Lewin and produced by Brian Wise.

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