Articles in today’s (6/16) New York Times and Washington Post report on two separate national surveys on arts participation. Of the National Assessment of Educational Progress in the Arts, released by the federal Department of Education, the Times’s Sam Dillon writes, “Administrators at 260 public and private schools were asked how much time they devotee to art and music instruction, and 7,900 eighth-grade students were tested on art and music concepts.… 16 percent of students reported that they had gone with their class to an art museum, gallery or exhibit in the last year. That was down from 22 percent in 1997.” Both the Times and the Post articles mention that only half of eighth graders could identify the solo instrument in a passage from Rhapsody in Blue as a clarinet. Pianist Ellen Weiser, quoted in the Times, says, “While these results are mediocre, not dire, they are disturbing signs.” The Post’s Jacqueline Trescott writes that the National Endowment for the Arts’ survey on adult arts participation noted “double-digit rates of decline” between 1982 and 2008 for audience participation for classical music, jazz, opera, musical theater, ballet and dramatic plays. “The findings underscore the need for more arts education to foster the next generation of both artists and arts enthusiasts,” says acting NEA chairman Patrice Walker Powell in the Post.

Posted June 16, 2009