Audience decline, measured
If there's good news in the National Endowment for the Arts's latest survey of public participation in the arts, which was released today, it's that classical music is not alone. The bad news is that this means that attendance at all live performing arts is declining -- has, indeed, hit its lowest level since 1982. It's not just classical: it's everybody.
Bad news: only 9% of those surveyed had attended a classical music concert in the past year. Good news, sort of, for classical music: that's more than attended a jazz, dance, or Latin/salsa performance. Bad news: only 2% went to an opera. (It really is elitist.) Good news: more people are watching and listening on the Web. (Does that include the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall broadcasts, or the Met Player? Or is it mainly YouTube? One wonders.)
I predict that at least part of the classical music world will react to this news by attempting to reject it, in keeping with the shoot-the-messenger stance that seems to be one way of dealing with bad news in this field. What are your thoughts on declining audiences? Should we worry?
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