2008: A crummy year for the arts



Want to know how the arts have fared, nationally?

According to the National Arts Index, not all that well. The study recently released its rating for 2008, and although parts of the sector are expanding, many others are declining.

The index — which rates the "health and vitality" of the arts, using 76 equally weighted categories of measure — accounts for money raised by arts nonprofits, jobs in the sector, consumer money spent on the arts (which includes the sale of music), demand for arts education and other factors.

So, 2008's score: 98.4. Sounds OK, right? Not really. This is a decrease of 4.2 from 2007 and far below the lowest benchmark year, which came in at 100 even.

The index began in 1998.
  • National Arts Index
  • The index began in 1998.

Two negative points:

• Although the number of art institutions has grown, overall attendance and charitable donations has declined.

• Overall, the arts sector is losing "audience time, donor and funder commitment, or spending" compared to non-arts businesses.

Two positives:

• Demand for arts-based education at the post-secondary level rose.

• The study also projects that the arts will start to rebound in 2011, following the national business cycle forecast.

You can read the full report here.

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