This ADP uses data from the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) and the 2018 Arts Basic Survey (ABS).

The 2017 SPPA asked respondents about their participation in a wide variety of arts and leisure activities in the 12 months spanning July 2016 to July 2017. The 2018 ABS was restricted to questions about personal performance and creation of art and covered the period of February 2017 to February 2018.

The 2017 SPPA sample size was 17,600, corresponding to a person response rate of 67 percent. The 2018 ABS had 18,100 respondents, and a person response rate of nearly 79 percent.

Target Population

Civilian, non-institutional population, 18 years and older

Geographic Coverage

Estimates are reported for 50 states and the District of Columbia, and for selected metropolitan statistical areas.


Conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the National Endowment for the Arts

Research Topic

Arts participation

Notable Features

Arts participation rates for the following activities:

  • Attending performing arts events

  • Attending art exhibits

  • Reading literature

  • Using electronic devices to consume art or arts programming

  • Personally performing or creating art


This ADP uses direct estimation of the 2017 SPPA and the 2018 ABS to report sub-national estimates for which the associated coefficients of variation (CVs) are 30 percent or lower.

The findings indicate that, once the SPPA and ABS designs are considered, most U.S. states and metropolitan areas exhibit arts participation rates close to the U.S. average.

There are, however, exceptions.

Residents of states such as Colorado and Minnesota typically report above-average arts participation. In 2017, for example, just under 49 percent of the U.S. population attended one or more performing arts events (i.e., saw live music, dance, or theater performances). But in Colorado, the share going to performances was close to 67 percent.

High performing arts attendance was also reported among residents of the Greater Denver, where 77 percent went to performances.

In Minnesota, the share of adults going to art exhibits was 37 percent, a share significantly above the national rate of 23 percent. Seeing works of art was also popular in the Minneapolis metropolitan statistical area, where 46 percent went to exhibits.

At the state level, above-average literature reading was reported in Virginia, where 54 percent of adult residents reported reading novels/short stories, poems, or plays. The U.S. rate was 44 percent.

In 2018, 21 percent of adults in Utah reported playing a musical instrument. This exceptionally high rate was more than 12 percentage points greater than the national rate of 8.6 percent.

(Note: Estimates of art exhibit attendance rates in these state, and D.C., though greater than the U.S. average, are not significantly different from each other.)

Technical Notes

The state estimates reported in this ADP have associated coefficients of variation (CVs) under 30 percent. The CV is a measure of dispersion calculated by dividing the standard error by the mean.

The 2017 SPPA requires the following factors when creating population estimates:

Within either core: factor = 2

Within any one module: factor = 2.5

Across any one core and one module: factor = 5

Across two different modules: factor = 10


The Office of Research & Analysis would like to thank graduate intern Alenamie Alegrado for her valuable assistance with this project.