Absolutely no one will be shocked by the findings of the National Arts Index: 2009 was a bad, bad year for all things art.
Since 1998, this country-wide study put on by Americans for the Arts has measured and reported on the "health and vitality" of the arts and culture sector. Eighty-one different factors — including arts in public education, philanthropy, jobs in the field, audience attendance numbers, etc. — are weighed, gauged and surveyed, then computed into an overall score for the year. So, for instance, 2003 is considered a benchmark year, coming in at 100.0; 1999 and 2007 are tied for the best years of the study, scoring 103.9. And 2009? 97.7. That's down from 101.3 in 2008.
But really, that's what we all figured, the NAI included. The first bullet in the summary report states "the arts follows the nation's business cycle." And when Consumer Confidence and GDP growth is low, the arts suffers, too.
Sad, yes. Hopeless, no.
According to the study, the good news is that arts volunteerism and personal arts creation throughout the country is growing, and demand for arts education in the post-secondary system is up.
But best of all, this seems to promise that once the economy recovers, so will the business side of the arts.
Read the full report here.