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Are in-Person Entertainment Experiences Dying? What a New Study Says

A new study released Wednesday by the National Endowment for the Arts shows a significant drop in attendance at cultural events.

The research examined the impact COVID-19 had on arts participation, finding that just under half of all adults attended at least one arts event in person from July 2021 to July 2022. That’s six percentage points less than what was reported in 2017. The majority of adults consumed their art through digital media.

Attendance rates dipped in nearly every in-person arts attendance category, including museums, gallery visits, plays, operas and ballets. The in-person entertainment experience that saw growth was the “other” performing arts category, which could include events like comedy/improv or circus acts.

When it came to visual arts attendance, the only experience that didn’t see significance declines was visits to parks, buildings and monuments.

“Taken together, these reports help to reveal the state of arts participation in our country and serve as an important resource in understanding areas that are growing in interest, those that showed a decline, as well as demographic gaps in participation, among other trends,” Chair of the NEA Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, said in a statement.

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