Wednesday, September 07, 2016

NEA survey has state-level data of creativity; North more likely than South to create or perform art

How creative are people in your state? The National Endowment for the Arts conducted a pair of surveys, in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, asking adults if they attended events, read literature, personally performed or created art, or consumed art via electronic media at least once during a 12-month period. Overall, 66 percent of respondents said they attended visual or performing arts events or went to the movies in 2015, 43 percent read literature in 2015, 45 percent performed or created art in 2014 and 61 percent said they consumed art via electronic media in 2012.

Numbers were much higher in the northern half of the U.S. when it came to creating or performing art, Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post. In no state to the south of the dividing line at parallel 36°30' (by chance, the line that delineated the boundary between new slave and free states in the Missouri Compromise) "do a majority of people say they personally create or perform art. Conversely, in only three states above that line—Kentucky, Delaware and West Virginia—do fewer than 40 percent of residents create or perform art." All those were slave territory before the Civil War. (Post map: Percent of adults who personally performed or created art in 2014)
NEA analysis credits this to attained levels of higher education, Ingraham writes. "The percent of state residents with a bachelor's degree or higher is positively correlated with creating artwork: in other words, more education, more art. Conversely, poverty rates are a strong negative driver of arts participation. If you're working three minimum wage jobs, you're probably not going to have a lot of time to indulge in crochet or creative writing."

"Of course, education and poverty are big drivers of each other, too," Ingraham writes. "States with more money can spend more on better education, which leads to higher wages, which leads to more education, in an ongoing virtuous cycle. Unfortunately, the reverse holds true as well."

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