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

International cultural tourism proves recession-proof. Arts travelers are ideal tourists—they stay longer and spend more.  The U.S. Dept of Commerce reports that the percentage of int’l travelers including museum visits on their trip has grown annually since 2003 (17% to 24%), while those including concerts and theater performances have increased five of the past seven years (13% to 17% since 2003).