The Washington Post reports on the National Arts Index report on the growth of arts organizations over the last decade outstripping demand from the audience. The internet is making it possible for more patrons to visit and participate in the arts remotely. Museum attendance dropped 13% in the five-year period from 2003-2008 even as more private museums were created and public ones expanded.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that one unforeseen danger of the growing interest in arts philanthropy–and the view among cities that the arts are an economic engine–is that there might be an over-investment in arts infrastructure. Here’s the Washington Post‘s take:
While the number of arts organizations increased rapidly over a recent 10-year span, the percentage of people attending arts events declined, a new national survey by the nonprofit group Americans for the Arts reported Wednesday.
This issue of supply and demand in the arts world is a troubling one, said the authors of the National Arts Index, because many groups have financial troubles and people of all ages are discovering new ways to experience the arts, including the Internet.
“Audience demand has failed to keep pace” with this boom in opportunities for arts participation, said Randy Cohen, the vice president for local arts advancement at the Americans for the Arts. “There is a new arts organization created every three hours.” […] Despite the mixed prognosis on the arts, artists and arts supporters alike have been intensely dedicated to keeping the arts on the front burner of policymakers. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has made the arts, and the resultant revenue and downtown revitalization, a centerpiece of its members’ goals. In addition to urging a Cabinet-level position on the arts, Mufi Hannemann, the mayor of Honolulu — in Washington for the winter meeting of mayors — called for a White House summit on the arts. “At the end of the day, the arts define the essence of the soul of a city,” Hannemann said.