Higher education provides many avenues for interaction with community arts and culture. Three main ways are evident: One is that the campus is an arts and culture destination for local arts audiences. Arts students in a community are especially likely to consume and participate in arts and culture activities in their own communities. A third is through the community life of the faculty, who may have studios or be members of local ensembles. All of these together make campuses with arts programs centers of activity that both radiate into the community, and invite the community in. Ideally, we would measure all of these multiple roles as consumers, producers and participants in arts and culture. A more compact proxy for these kinds of engagement, especially the last two, is the number of visual and performing arts graduates from colleges, universities, and arts academies and conservatories in different communities. The larger this number, the more the cultural life of the community is likely to be affected by the educational program through those three channels.

This indicator measures the number of degrees in the visual and performing arts issued by degree-granting institutions in each community from graduating years 2009 to 2013 for every 100,000 county residents. This tally includes associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The data come from the National Center for Education Statistics in the federal Department of Education. We scaled the number of degrees issued by local institutions to the size of the community by dividing by its 2013 population and multiplying by 100,000. This provides a common scale for schools and communities of different sizes.

Additional Information: Counties with indicator value = 1,022. Average county indicator value = 248.15. Median county indicator value = 119.86.


Fast Facts from the Arts Index

Demand for arts in education by college-bound students is up!

According to data published by The College Board, the share of SAT test-takers with 4 years of arts or music classes in high school has grown over the past decade from 15% to 20%. The number of college arts degrees conferred annually have risen steadily from 75,000 to 129,000 over the past dozen years.