Research released Wednesday by the National Endowment for the Arts found that significantly fewer American adults are attending cultural activities such as classical music concerts, theater productions and movies than they did before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Just 48 percent of adults reported attending at least one arts event from July 2021 to July 2022, according to the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which has been administered by the Census Bureau roughly every five years since 1982. That number represents a six-point drop from the most recent survey in 2017, amplifying alarm bells that the arts community is struggling to regain its pre-shutdown audience.

In addition to drawing on the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, the NEA’s research also cited the 2022 General Social Survey, which was administered by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. That survey found that 82 percent of respondents watched or listened to arts activities through digital platforms between 2021 and 2022, suggesting a robust online engagement that persisted even as in-person events returned.

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