Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA)


The SPPA has been conducted every few years since 1982. After 2012, the plan has been to conduct the survey at five-year intervals.


Partnership between the NEA’s Office of Research & Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The SPPA is a supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS).


Adult participation in various arts and cultural activities.

Notable Features

Adults aged 18 years and older are asked about:

  • Attendance at visual arts activities, live performing events, and movies.
  • Reading of books and literature (poetry, plays, and novels and short stories).
  • Personal creation and performance of artworks (including through electronic/digital media).
  • Consumption of art through electronic/digital media.
  • Participation in arts classes or lessons.
  • Participation in non-arts leisure activities.
  • Demographic backgrounds.

Revisions to the SPPA

The 2017 SPPA carried several new question-items about arts attendance, including venue information, motivations for attending, and frequency of attendance. Question-items about personally creating art or engaging with art through media and technology were revised substantially, with related questions about venues, frequency, and motivation also were added. Finally, the 2017 survey questionnaire has a new module about adults’ attitudes toward their access to the arts.


This Arts Data Profile features a “first look” report and tables on attendance at performing and visual arts events, and on reading books and literature.

A comprehensive report, featuring additional forms of arts participation (e.g., personal performance and creation of art and arts learning) is planned for release in early 2019. Subsequent additions will feature monographs on specialized SPPA-related topics.


In 2017, 53.8 percent of U.S. adults (up from 50.2 percent in 2012), or 132.3 million people, attended a visual or performing arts activity at least once in the past 12 months.