Americans for the Arts released its second annual National Arts Index scores this week and the findings demonstrate well that the arts follow the nation’s business cycle: the 2009 Index score of 97.7 is the lowest Index score in the twelve years measured by the Index.

  • The 2009 score represents a drop of 3.6 percentage points from 101.3 in 2008.
  • There were 3,000 new nonprofit arts organizations created during the 2007-09 recession years but attendance at mainstream arts organizations and events continues a long-term decline.
  • In 2008, 41% of nonprofit arts groups reported a deficit to the IRS, up from 36% in 2007.

While the flagging economy has surely presented a number of challenges for the arts, the Index does hit some high notes for the arts:

  • Americans are seeking more personal engagement in the arts. Personal arts creation and volunteerism is growing. The number of Americans who personally participated in an artistic activity increased 5% between 2005 and 2009, while volunteering also jumped 11.6 percent.
  • The number of artists in the workforce has increased 17% from 1996 to 2009 (1.9 to 2.2 million).
  • Demand for Arts Education is up. There are more college-bound seniors with 4 years of arts or music and in the past decade college arts degrees conferred annually have risen from 75,000 to 127,000.

Go to the National Arts Index page and read the summary and vist ARTSblog to share the ways you see personal arts creation and volunteerism growing in your community or tell us about arts programs that are innovative in building audience demand.