In Monday’s (1/24) Los Angeles Times, Mike Boehm writes, “Billed as ‘the largest data set ever assembled describing arts and culture in America,’ the National Arts Index released Monday by the advocacy group Americans for the Arts aims to capture in a single number how the arts and entertainment sector has been doing—much as the Dow Jones and S&P indices do for stocks. The news is not good. The index for 2009 is 97.7, the lowest in the 12 years of data on which the index is calculated. Based on 81 separate measures of how Americans spend and donate their money and time, and how artists (broadly defined) fare as workers, the index seeks to reflect the health not just of the so-called ‘high’ arts dominated by nonprofit organizations but also the commercial arts—movies, pop music and concerts, books and the market for visual art. … In the most all-encompassing single measure that feeds into the index, the report says that inflation-adjusted spending on audio and video recordings, movie theaters, educational books, photography, live entertainment (excluding sports) and museum admissions was $157.7 billion in 2009, down 8.6% from its 2006 peak.”

Posted January 25, 2011