To stay relevant to changing communities, many arts organizations have been developing engagement programs — that is, programming designed to reach more and different people and involve them more actively in how art is made and experienced. While engagement efforts are often episodic or separate from an art organization’s core programming, in late 2013 a group of 10 arts nonprofits across California set out to make engagement central to their identities as part of the New California Arts Fund. To do this, they pursued transformations in their programmatic, organizational, and business models. This evaluation documents their achievements and challenges, and provides considerations for arts organizations and funders interested in reaching ethnically diverse and/or low-income communities.
Every four years, the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Census Bureau partner to survey tens of thousands of adults across the country in an attempt to understand how people participate in the arts. This report, published in 2015, is the first in a two-part study commissioned by the Irvine Foundation to understand what California’s residents do to participate in the arts and, importantly, how that varies across the state’s diverse population.
The report finds that attendance at arts nonprofit-sponsored events have fallen, and even more so, that a lot of arts audiences don’t reflect California’s diversity—in terms of race and ethnicity, income, or education level. At the same time, it found that while Californians are attending traditional arts events less, they are participating in arts in many other new and exciting ways. Arts participation has traditionally been understood to mean arts attendance—and this is what the survey explores—but the data shows that we can benefit from a new understanding and definition for arts participation.
Explore key findings in this infographic.
The James Irvine Foundation
The James Irvine Foundation is a philanthropic nonprofit organization established to benefit the people of California. It seeks to promote social equity of America’s most populous state through its grants to expand economic and political opportunity for low-income Californians.