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In the Air – Art+Auction's Gossip Column

Study finds US Arts Attendance is Up

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Yesterday, New York-based strategy, design, and advertising firm LaPlaca Cohen announced the results of its two-year study, “Culture Track,” which has polled the “attitudes and behaviors among U.S. cultural audiences” since 2001. This 2012-13 study revealed that museum and musical theater attendance is up while dramatic theater, classical dance, and opera saw decreases in numbers.

The study also asked about use of social media at arts venues — a topic all-too-relevant with record lines (and a record number of selfies) at MoMA’s Rain Room and the Kusama Infinity Room at David Zwirner, among other exhibitions. While the study found that only 20 percent of cultural attendees use their phones “on-site at cultural organizations,” 68 percent of those people use their phones to take photos, an occurrence the study refers to as the “selfie moment.”

“These findings reveal audiences that are restless, curious and ‘culturally promiscuous’—eager for new experiences they can share in person with friends and family,” Arthur Cohen, founder and CEO of LaPlaca Cohen, said in a press release. “We have also learned that people rely above all on their emotions to tell them what those experiences might be, outside of traditional definitions of culture. If something enriches their senses, if it enlarges their world, and if they can do it in company they like, they are open to it. This is challenging news for institutions that are trying to retain the loyalty of audiences, but good news for organizations that are willing to listen to what the public has to say.”

— Ashton Cooper (@ashton_cooper)

(Photo: Danielle Mattoon, culture editor of The New York Times, moderated a panel discussion about the implications of the findings with Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Dallas Museum of Art; Stephen Bruno, president of marketing of The Weinstein Company; Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of PBS’s MASTERPIECE (including Downton Abbey and Sherlock); Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn Theaters and founder of Culturalist.com; and Julie Taymor, director of film, opera and theater; Louis Seigal)

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