Some arts consumers are so-called “cultural omnivores” who enjoy arts and culture activity in multiple ways and at multiple times. To capture this tendency of arts consumers to participate widely in the arts, we created a summary measure of overall participation in cultural activities using data from Scarborough. To get to “overall,” we consider attendance at popular entertainment and the live performing arts, and visitation at arts museums and zoos, and on-line purchase of music, and playing musical instruments, and going to movies all together.

This indicator is created by summing the percentages of adults reported by Scarborough as participating in each of these activities, and multiplying the sum by 100. It is limited to the 518 counties where Scarborough gathered data from a minimum of 180 respondents over three years, from 2009, 2010, and 2011. This makes it only a very rough estimate of overall participation.

A score of 100 would be an estimate that adults in that county on average participate in one of those cultural activities per year, regardless of which one. A score of 200 for a county would mean each person on average participates in two cultural activities per year. Both individual arts activity percentages and this overall participation indicator can help local arts managers and leaders understand the breadth of community engagement in arts and culture.


Additional Information: Average county indicator value = 144.6. Median county indicator value = 144.0.


Fast Facts from the Arts Index

The nonprofit arts grow – despite a recession!

The number of nonprofit arts organizations has grown annually, reaching 113,000 in 2010. In the past decade, nonprofit arts organizations grew 49% (76,000 to 113,000), a greater rate than all nonprofit organizations, which grew 32% (1.2 million to 1.6 million).