This week Americans for the Arts released its 2013 National Arts Index report—the annual measure of the health and vitality of the arts industries in the U.S. This year’s report provides the fullest picture yet of the impact of the Great Recession on the arts—before, during, and after. The Index losses during 2008-09 were swift and measurable: the two-year drop from 2007-09 far exceeded the five-year gains made between 2002 and 2007 (-5.4 percent vs. +3.6 percent, respectively).
The Index is set to a base score of 100 in 2003; every point difference is a 1 percent change from that year. The National Arts Index score effectively leveled-off in 2011 at 97.0, down just a fraction from a revised 2010 score of 97.2.
- During the economically robust years of 2002-06, over half of the indicators increased annually.
- Between 2007 and 2009, however, less than one-third increased.
- While the arts rebounded in 2010 (43 percent of the indicators rose), there was slippage in 2011 (just 38 percent increased).
The Index is composed of 78 national-level indicators—the latest annual data produced by the federal government and private research organizations—and covers the 12-year span of 2000-11.
Why do an Index?
The arts are a fundamental component of a healthy society, based on virtues that touch the individual, community, and the nation—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times:
- Aesthetics: The arts create beauty and preserve it as part of culture
- Creativity: The arts encourage creativity, a critical skill in a dynamic world
- Expression: Artistic work lets us communicate our interests and visions
- Identity: Arts goods, services, and experiences help define our culture
- Innovation: The arts are sources of new ideas, futures, concepts, and connections
- Preservation: Arts and culture keep our collective memories intact
- Prosperity: The arts create millions of jobs and enhance economic health
- Skills: Arts aptitudes and techniques are needed in all sectors of society and work
- Social Capital: We enjoy the arts together, across races, generations, and places
These are the reasons it is important to understand how the arts thrive, enabling them to deliver these valuable benefits. The health and vitality of the arts, therefore, should be of pressing interest to anyone who cares about healthy communities. Read the rest of this entry »