The Arts Basic Survey
The Arts Basic Survey (ABS) is a short-form edition of the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA), which typically has been conducted on a five-year basis. The ABS and the SPPA are designed by the National Endowment for the Arts and fielded by the U.S. Census Bureau as a supplement to the Current Population Survey.
The 2020 ABS covered the pre-pandemic period of February 2019 to 2020. Respondents to the 2020 survey were asked one of two sets of questions pertaining to either: (1) attendance at live arts events and literary reading; or (2) personally performing or creating art.
Conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the National Endowment for the Arts
Civilians, non-institutionalized, 18 years and older
Estimates are provided for: the U.S.; regions; states for which corresponding coefficients of variation do not exceed 30 percent; and 11 metropolitan statistical areas
Surveys U.S. adults on participation in a variety of arts activities:
- Attending a live music, theater, or dance performance
- Attending an art exhibit
- Attending a live book-reading, poetry, or storytelling event
- Visiting buildings, neighborhoods, parks, or monuments because of their historical, architectural, or design value
- Reading literature
- Working with pottery, ceramics, or jewelry
- Doing leatherwork, metalwork, or woodwork
- Doing weaving, crocheting, quilting, or other textile art
- Playing a musical instrument
- Doing acting
- Performing or practicing dance
- Doing social dance
- Creating films or videos for artistic purposes
- Taking photographs for artistic purposes
- Creating other visual art such as paintings and sculptures
- Do creative writing
National-level demographics of arts participants
State-level estimates of arts participation
Trends in arts participation
- The comparatively low rates of arts participation for Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics are partially offset after one accounts for differences in education level between these groups.
- For most types of arts activity, five states show consistently higher rates of arts participation, compared with U.S. adults as a whole. Those states are: Vermont, Minnesota, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and Utah.
- Within each state, the following factors are correlated with rates of arts attendance and literary reading: educational level, poverty status, and the state’s concentration of arts workers. None of these factors, however, are closely linked to levels of music-instrument playing or working with pottery or creating other visual art within a state.
- Between 2015 and 2020, the share of adults who read literature—novels or short stories, poetry, or plays-fell from 43.1 percent to 39.9 percent.
- Over the same period, the share of adults visiting buildings, neighborhoods, parks, or monuments for historical, architectural, or design value rose from 27.4 percent to 30.8 percent.