About the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts

The NEA survey was administered in July 2012 as a supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), and therefore is nationally representative. The 2012 SPPA included two core components: a questionnaire used in previous years to ask about arts attendance; and a new, experimental module on arts attendance. In addition, the survey included five modules designed to capture other types of arts participation as well as participation in other leisure activities.

Respondents were randomly assigned to either of the survey’s core questionnaires, and then were randomly assigned to two of the remaining five SPPA modules. Most SPPA questions address arts participation that occurred in the 12-month period prior to the survey’s completion. The total sample size of the 2012 SPPA was 37,266 U.S. adults, ages 18 and over, of which 31.7 percent were represented by proxy respondents. The 2012 SPPA had a household response rate of 74.8 percent.

Geographic Areas Covered by the SPPA

The SPPA provides estimates for the U.S., four regions, and nine regional divisions, which are groups of states that are subdivisions of the four regions. For example, New England and the Middle Atlantic are the divisions composing North East Region.

The SPPA also provides estimates for 32 states: Alabama; California; Colorado, Connecticut; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Iowa; Kansas; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Missouri; Nebraska; Nevada; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Texas; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; and Wyoming.

Estimates for states not covered by the SPPA are included as a remainder in the regional subdivision corresponding to that state. For example, SPPA sample sizes are not large enough to provide reliable estimates for Rhode Island or Vermont. Rather, figures for "Remainder of New England" combine counts for both states.1

In addition, the SPPA can reliably supply arts participation estimates for 11 metropolitan areas: Boston-Worchester-Manchester, MA-NH; Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City, IL-IN; Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Denver-Aurora-Boulder, CO; Detroit-Warren-Flint, MI; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA; Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, FL; New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA; Philadelphia-Camden-Vineland, PA-NJ-DE-MD; San Jose-Francisco-Oakland, CA; and Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV.

An Overview of 2012 SPPA Components and Weights

Respondents to the 2012 SPPA were randomly assigned to one of two core sets of questions: Core 1, which contains questions found in the core components of previous SPPAs; and Core 2, which contains a new, experimental set of questions.

SPPA respondents were also randomly assigned to questions in two of five SPPA modules: Module A, other arts participation questions (e.g., attend a live book-reading event or go to the movies) and music preferences; Module B, accessing art through media; Module C, creating art through media; Module D, personally creating or performing art or engaging in other leisure activities (e.g., hunting or fishing); and Module E, arts learning.

The modular design to the SPPA necessarily results in multiple weights. The following guide, excerpted from 2012 SPPA Public-Use Data File User's Guide, provides a quick key to SPPA data users:

2012 SPPA cores and modules Correct weight

The 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts dataset (and accompanying technical documentation) is available on the NEA's website.

1 For more information on the alignment of states within regions and regional divisions, please see Regions and Divisions of the United States. [Provide hyperlink to this Profile #4 document.]