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Who’s Supporting the Arts?

by Susan Mitchell

WHAT’S THE STATE of art today? Among educated Americans,
it’s looking pretty good. While 37 percent of all Americans
visited a museum in 1998, a whopping 71 percent of people
with graduate degrees made a trip that year, as did 66 percent
of people with bachelor’s degrees, according to the 1998 General
Social Survey conducted by the University of Chicago’s National
Opinion Research Center. Classical music and dance also did
well among the well schooled.

Nearly half the people who hold graduate degrees and one-third
of those with bachelor’s degrees took in a classical music
or dance performance in 1998, compared with fewer than 15
percent of people with less education. Even better news for
anyone who runs an arts institution-the support goes beyond
buying tickets. More than one-quarter of college graduates
did volunteer work for arts organizations, according to the
survey, compared with only 16 percent of all Americans. College
graduates are more likely than other Americans to say the
government has an obligation to support the arts: 57 percent
of them say that arts organizations should get federal assistance
and about 70 percent say they should receive state and local aid.

By comparison, 45 percent

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