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After 10 years of research and publication, the 2016 National Arts Index report by Americans for the Arts concludes this initiative. This report is the last in the series.

The National Arts Index was developed to help people understand the breadth of the arts, and how they change over time. What set it apart from other research initiatives was its focus on the entire arts system—nonprofit and for-profit organizations, individual artists, funding and investment, employment, attendance and personal creation, and much more—81 national-level indicators tracked for more than a decade. The National Arts Index was one of the first annual “big data” enterprises that focused solely on the arts. The Index called attention to new trends as well as provided data for what had previously only been observed (read all about it in the new report summary!).

  • How the public participates in and consumes the arts is ever-expanding, thanks to advances in technology and a public seeking more active engagement in their arts choices.
  • While the number of nonprofit arts organizations, artists in the workforce, and college arts graduates steadily grows—the share of the population visiting an arts museum, attending a performing arts event, or making an arts contribution steadily decreases.
  • The arts respond to the booms and busts of the nation’s economy. The busts hit the arts immediately . . . the recoveries tend to lag 1-2 years behind the nation’s economy.
  • Student demand for arts classes and college arts degrees grows steadily. The number of arts degrees conferred annually rose steadily from 75,000 to 139,000 between 1997 and 2013.
  • America’s arts industries produce new and exciting work for their audiences, regardless of the economic cycles—more than 11,500 since 2002.

While the “National Arts Index” makes year-to-year comparisons about arts at the national level, the companion “Local Arts Index” provides a narrow time period, but a deeper look at the arts down to the county level. Visit the “Where I Live” page to find tools to help you examine the arts in your community. Both are tools that provide a “common currency of language,” making it easier to talk about why change is occurring, where things may be going in the future, and how the arts can stay vital. We hope the work has been valuable to you as we work together to build healthy, vibrant, equitable communities through the arts. Thanks for reading!

Download all National Arts Index Reports

Download all Local Arts Index Data