Week 08: Working with Data Journal Entry

The question I want to explore in this assignment is what does American participation in the arts look like? Collecting and evaluating this data will help us understand the question of what barriers to arts access exist that I’ve been exploring in this class so far this semester. I’m really interested in understanding how much Americans want to engage in the arts and where they place its overall importance in their lives. Although not current, I chose the study titled “Local Arts Participation Study 1992” which was sponsored by the Research Division of the National Endowment for the Arts. This study explored arts participation across 12 sites in the U.S. and for this assignment, I’m exploring the aggregate version.

I think this is an interesting point because it shows a clear desire among folks that they want to attend arts events more. This shows that there is a clear need for accessible arts at the end of the day and that considering accessibility is an important question when you see so many people who want to increase their own participation in the arts.

Here, we have a cool example that could help inform policy around increasing arts accessibility. The willingness of people to see arts in schools can help pave the way for increasing arts participation and access through school-based avenues. Using this data could be what convinces policy-makers to increase access starting with the school, which could be one important dynamic. I honestly didn’t expect to see folks think its very important at such a high rate to have the arts in schools.

Here’s a breakdown of wanting to attend more art events by age. The table won’t fit on the webpage and this graph is messed up too, which shows a huge need for a recode.

Running the recode helps simplify the data, so that it’s easier to read.

Going a little deeper, with the desire to increase arts participation by attending arts events, we’re cross tabbing this with how much income is earned. This shows that for nearly all income levels, there’s a desire to attend arts events more, showing a willingness to access arts across all income levels, which I think is pretty astounding. We do see a slight increase in the desire to attend more with folks who have more income, but it’s all still pretty high across the board.

Applying a new lens to the question about the importance of art in schools, we see general agreement that art is “very important” in schools across all the education levels. But I think a couple of interesting outliers is that if they had some high school or a vocation school, then they’re lower than the rest – especially if they’ve only had some high school. This shows a strange space where art isn’t considered important and how efforts could be made to change that.

Final analysis

When specifically evaluating the desire for increasing arts participation and income, and then controlling for race, you’ll see that a desire for more arts is universally true across each race and culture. Small sample sizes for certain races does create instances where wanting more personal arts participation is either overwhelmingly swayed in one direction or the other, but in the end we see that wanting more personal arts participation is a universal across all income levels and race and heritage backgrounds – which shows a true need for increasing arts access as it will benefit everyone, based on this data.


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