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

U.S. Share of World Creative Goods Trade is Rebounding! Overall, America’s role in global cultural trade declined steadily from 2002 through 2009, but we have seen a rebound in 2010 and 2011. Almost all of this is due to exports, which change more—both up and down—than imports in the U.S. Trade surpluses are good news for the U.S. economy!