A new study was issued this week by consultant and author Patricia Martin, who writes a great blog on the cultural consumer. I have worked with Pat for many years, and she always has interesting things to say, and good insight into the "zeitgeist" of the cultural consumer - the folks who form our audiences, visitors and arts participants. The "American Life and Culture Survey" reinforces what many arts groups are seeing - in the difficult economy consumer spending and attitudes towards cultural engagement have not changed all that much - people are still buying books, going to performing arts events, attending and renting movies, etc. One big finding: Millennials create; Boomers consume - 82% of younger respondents said their peers consider them creative, and one third of this group blog. The older Boomer group create less, but consume at a higher rate, participating in cultural experiences and acquiring art.In a sign of the economic times, even though attendance may not be down, consumers are much more actively seeking free cultural experiences. I wonder how this trend is going to intersect with the fact that tight budgets are forcing many arts groups to cut back on discounted and free admission and tickets - are we shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot?
Also of interest is that 90% of the cultural consumer group agreed that the arts help to keep the local economy strong and create growth. More than 90% stay informed about political news and vote locally and nationally. The success on the recent arts tax battle is proof of the power of this group when aroused and harnessed. Access the study here.