Attendance at performing arts events in the U.S. 2003-2013

The statistic above shows the attendance at performing arts events in the United States from 2003 to 2013. In year 2013, approximately 73.54 million people attended a performing arts event at least once.

Performing arts – additional information

Performing arts are any type of art form in which a performer physically conveys an artistic piece; this includes dance, opera, symphony and theatre performances. In comparison, visual arts convey artistic expression using inanimate objects, such as paintings or sculptures. Between 2003 and 2012, attendance at performing art events steadily declined in the U.S., reaching its lowest point in 2012 with 74.94 million attendees. The decline in attendance can be attributed to varying factors. A 2012 survey into the barriers of attending visual and performing art events found that 38.3 percent of respondents felt art events cost too much. Similarly, a separate 2014 survey conducted by LaPlaca Cohen found that the main economic reason for decreasing cultural participation was people reducing their expenses across the board.

Despite the decrease in public participation in the arts, the number of people studying within the field has increased. Between 1999 and 2012, the number of students receiving a visual or performing arts bachelors degree in the U.S. increased from 54,505 to 95,797. A similar trend can be seen over the same time period in regards to the number of visual or performing arts masters and doctoral degrees obtained.

In the U.S., attendance at art events can be correlated with level of education. In 2012, those with a graduate school education were the most likely to have attended an art activity, with 65.6 percent having attended an event in the last year. The adults who were the least likely had the lowest level of education, having completed only grade school. Only 6.5 percent of this group had attended an art event in the last year.

Population attending performing arts events in the United States from 2003 to 2013 (in millions)*

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Release date

April 2016


United States

Survey time period

2003 to 2013

Supplementary notes

* Performing arts includes dance, opera, symphony and theatre events. Data was gathered in 81 metropolitan areas that have about 75 percent of the entire U.S. population.
The data was rounded to provide a better understanding of the statistic.

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