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The Urban/Rural Status of Arts and Leisure Participation

Authors: Bonnie Nichols*, National Endowment for the Arts
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: arts participation, leisure, cluster
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Attending performing arts events and visiting museums is more common among those living in urban/metropolitan areas. In 2017, for instance, 38 percent of urban-dwellers went to a live concert, play/musical, or dance performance. By contrast, just 28 percent of those living in non-metropolitan areas attended.

Notably, performing arts attendance appeals equally to those living in the city and suburb parts of metro areas, and metro size appears to have little effect on attendance rates.

However, once personal performance and creation, rather than attendance, is considered, urban-dwelling tends to lose its arts participation primacy. Nearly 9 percent of adults living in both metro/urban areas and in non-metro/rural areas play a musical instrument.
The same is true of the urban/rural status of certain leisure activities. In 2017, 31 percent of people living in both areas reported doing outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, or canoeing.

This presentation will use data from the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (a supplement to the Current Population Survey) to examine the urban/rural status of arts participation and leisure activities. It will also draw on data from the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns to explore geographic clustering of arts and cultural organizations.

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