Art Works Blog

The 411 on "Audience 2.0"

Washington, DC

A Cure for What Ails Me by Tigerplish from flickr

We recently released a new report on how Americans participate in the arts through media. Not media as in journalism, but media as in technology: one of the questions that bedeviled us as we completed the report was what to name it. Would "arts and media" suffice to communicate what the report is about? In the end, we settled on Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation.

The report, based on a monograph that we commissioned from Sameer Bawa, et al., BBC Research & Consulting (no relation to the transatlantic media giant), contains one big surprise. True, it's no surprise to people already exploring the convergence between live arts attendance and media-based arts participation.  But to many Americans, it may not be obvious that the two distinct forms of arts engagement are statistically correlated.

According to our analysis, people who view or listen to arts via electronic media are 2 to 3 times as likely as non-media arts participants to attend live performances, exhibits, and to create or perform their own art. They attend twice as many arts performances per year than non-media users, and they attend a greater diversity of events. Importantly, this pattern holds even after we control for people's education level and other characteristics.

Another key finding: older adults, rural Americans, and people from racial or ethnic minority groups may be more likely to engage with certain art forms through media alone. Together, this cohort accounts for about 15% of the U.S. adult population. Fifty percent of adults, meanwhile, don't engage with those art forms through media OR live attendance. And young adults are among the most likely to use media to create or perform art of their own.

We hope this research report will prompt arts organizations to recognize, through their own programming, the public appetite for art in a variety of old and new media formats. At the same time, we hope that the demographic information about arts media participants will lend insights about audience preferences and how people from historically underserved backgrounds can be reached more effectively with arts programming.

Visit the publications page on our website to read the full report.

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