Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies - A Program of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
How Does the American Public Feel About Artists?

The American Perceptions of Artists Survey, sponsored by The Urban Institute and conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates in 2002, measured perceptions of artists by the American public nationwide and in selected metropolitan areas. The survey measured opinions of artists in general, individual relationships to artists, and participation in a variety of specific art forms such as music, theatre, and dance.

How much do artists contribute to society?

The survey asked how much artists and other occupations contribute to the general good of society. Nationally, 27% of people think artists contribute a lot to the general good of society while 26% say that artists contribute only a little or nothing. Far more people feel teachers (82%), doctors (76%), scientists (66%), construction workers (63%), clergy and religious leaders (52%) contribute a lot to society. Artists' contribution to society is perceived to be closer to that of elected officials (26% contribute a lot) and athletes (18% contribute a lot).

Graph: How much does each occupation contribute to the general good of society? (American Perceptions of Artists, 2002).

Does art move or inspire?

A majority of adults in the United States say that they have been moved or inspired by art. Hearing a piece of music or seeing a film or video has inspired or moved most Americans (87%), while a majority have also been inspired by seeing a painting, drawing, or photograph (80%); reading a novel or short story (76%), seeing a play (66%); and seeing a dance performance (58%).

Graph: Are you ever moved or inspired by [art]? (Americans Perceptions of Artists, 2002).

Are the lives of performing artists more difficult?

Approximately 46% of people surveyed perceive the lives of performing artists, defined as individuals who work in music, dance, or theatre, to be more difficult than the lives of people outside the arts. In contrast, 36% of people perceive the lives of performing artists to be about the same. Only 9% believe the lives of performing artists are less difficult, while another 9% are uncertain or feel that the difficulty of artists' lives depends on other matters.

Graph: Is the life of a performing artist more or less difficult than the lives of people outside the arts? (Americans Perceptions of Artists, 2002).

The data from the American Perceptions of Artists Survey 2002 can be accessed through CPANDA for further analysis. For example, are there significant differences in public perceptions of artists when compared across different metropolitan areas or with respect to demographic variables such as gender, age, income, education, or race? In general, are artists well-respected? Are artists perceived as affecting the local economy or bringing different groups of people together?

These and other questions may be analyzed through FACTOID, CPANDA's user-friendly online analysis interface.


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