According to the Washington Post and LA Times, surveys indicate that the public is attending less and less arts related performances and exhibitions. "Two separate national surveys gauging youth and adult participation in the arts reported yesterday that visits to art museums are declining....The percentage of eighth-graders who reported that they visited an art museum or gallery with their classes dropped from 22 percent in 1997 to 16 percent in 2008."
Uhhhh - well, duh. Cutbacks in arts education means there are no funds to get the kids to museums. Of course there is going to be a drop. And it will of course profoundly affect the Arts in the future as these kids grow up with little or no exposure to it. But it isn't just the kids not being encouraged to go to museums and festivals.
According to the National Endowment for the Arts fewer adults are going to art museums and visual arts festivals. The exception seems to be in major cities where they can attend museums and festivals for free. Has FREE become the operative word here? Are we becoming a society where if we can't get it for free, we don't want it at all? Because the starving arts will only live so long - you don't feed the artist/arts at least a little... it dies.
It is interesting to note that the surveys indicate arts participation online has increased... possibly because viewing art online is free. And as much as I enjoy the easy access of art online it still doesn't replace acting DOING, SEEING, FEELING. It is like looking at a print in a book of Salvidor Dali's " The Discovery of America" - it looks cool and can be appreciated for a fine painting. But see the fourteen foot high painting in person at the Dali Museum and it completely, totally blows you away.
Same goes for listening to music on you tube or itunes rather than experiencing it live. Convenience is great but it doesn't replace actual real, live experience. We need to mesh the two together and create something new that continues to encourage people to experience art in more than just a virtual environment. We need to back it the hell up and stop the slippery slide down that slope before all we have left are old vid clips and copies of paintings that were done decades ago.