Surprised? You shouldn’t be. People in Idaho love their arts. It’s not what most people would expect from a rural state with a reputation for wild rivers, wilderness and outdoor sports, but the latest survey of arts participation from the National Endowment for the Arts puts Idaho in the top percentile nationally, along with several other Western states.
One standout fact is that Idahoans are fifth in the nation for reading literature — novels, poetry, plays, short stories. (The national numbers shows a drop in adults who read literature, from 47 percent in 2012, to 45 percent in 2013, and 43.1 percent in 2015.)
“This is really exciting to me,” says Michael Faison, executive director of the Idaho Commission on the Arts. “This isn’t just magazines. This is literature and poetry. The fact that Idahoans read voraciously speaks to a literacy rates and that excites me. Reading is at the core of everything – of intellectual curiosity and engagement in society.”
▪ Idaho is second only to Utah for the number of people who see movies. Idaho: 73.4 percent; Utah: 76.2 percent.
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▪ Idaho (75.9 percent) is sixth in the nation for the percentage of people who attend visual and performing arts events behind Utah (84.5 percent), Colorado (80.7 percent), Montana (80.6 percent), Wyoming (76.6 percent) and Washington (76.3 percent).
▪ We are average for people who go to art exhibits with 19.1 percent, but in the top five for people who use TV, radio and internet to access the arts, coming in second with 77.1 percent behind Washington (80.4 percent).
Some national statistics
▪ Nearly 32 percent of U.S. adults (76 million) attended a live music, theater or dance performance.
▪ In 2015, 19 percent, (45 million), attended an art exhibit.
▪ Young adults, ages 18 to 24, participate in the arts at higher rates than adults in general, with 37 percent of young adults attending live performing arts events versus 32 percent of all adults. Relative to their share of the U.S. population, young adults were overrepresented among performing arts attendees by 17 percent.
▪ Western states tend to have participation rates above average.
▪ Eastern states such as Maryland and Vermont also have above-average rates
▪ Rates are below average in southern states such as Mississippi, West Virginia and Florida.
Check out this interactive map created by the NEA that shows how rates vary by state.