Since the mid-1960s, when State Arts Agencies (SAAs) were created, grant-making for the arts has thrived, increasing the supply of arts organizations. But little has been done to create a corresponding demand for the arts. This Wallace-commissioned report argues that reversing declining participation in the arts will require more and better arts education, especially for the young, because those who experience the arts as children are more likely to participate in the arts as adults. The report, the third in a series of four, calls for SAAs to balance grant-making (increasing supply) with efforts to expand the audience (increasing demand).
The study recommends that State Arts Agencies take a series of steps, including:
- Surveying arts education in their states to inform strategies for improving demand;
- Advocating for the benefits of arts engagement and the necessity of promoting engagement through education; and
- Supporting standards-based programs in schools and encouraging colleges to offer courses for both high-school students and community members.
The study recommends that other policymakers can take additional actions, such as supporting collaborative programs that increase the depth and breadth of arts learning and advocating for change in state education policy.
Without such steps, Americans may be forced to abandon “the ideal of democratized arts” and accept that the arts will become “largely the province of an educated elite,” the report says.