If You're an Avid Internet User You may be More Cultured Than You Think

The National Endowment for the Arts has released a report on technology and the arts with findings indicating that internet users might be more – not less, as some have opined – cultured than others. Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation looks at how new media use affects adults’ interaction with “high culture” like jazz performances and art galleries. Those who use new media like the internet, handheld devices and T.V. to participate in the arts are, according to the report, more likely to attend live arts events, and a greater variety of events at that.

The report has an abundance of statistics that indicate that technology improves the chances that users will engage with the arts. 59 percent of technology users are likely to attend live arts events such as musicals, art galleries, ballet and opera compared to 21 percent of non-technology users. On average, technology users attend six live events per year, while their non-technology counterparts only attend an average of three. The NEA believes that these findings indicate that arts engagement is enhanced, rather than decreased, as people use modern technology.

Chairman of the NEA, Rocco Landesman, thinks that the arts needs to accept technology as a part of people’s lives and as a part of the future of the arts:

“We are faced with the Internet, social media, and other new technologies, and I believe the arts field must embrace them and integrate them into our work.”

Not only is technology use an indicator of greater participation in the arts, but it is also sometimes the only way that Americans can participate at all. The study reports that older individuals, those in a lower income bracket, and those who are part of a minority group often cannot participate in arts events directly. Instead, they turn to technology as a window to the arts – using things like live video streaming on the internet to “attend” concerts.

The very presentation of this report indicates that the NEA is eager to accept technology as an integral part of the arts. Audience 2.0 is only available online in a multimedia format, a break from the traditional paper format of past NEA reports. Video greetings from Chairman Landesman and analysis from Sunil Lyengar, Director of Research and Analysis accompany the opening and certain chapters of the report, and videos from arts organizations accompany many of the chapters as well.

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