Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes in Alexei Ratmansky's The Sleeping Beauty 2015. Photo courtesy of American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre isn't the only arts organization celebrating a major anniversary this season. This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts. Created in 1965, the NEA fosters arts creation and participation in the U.S. For dance, this means providing support for artists and companies to create new works, stage historic ones, promote dance education and appreciation in communities across the nation. and conduct research analyses on how people interact with the arts.

Some NEA-ballet connections:

  • In 1965, the NEA’s first ever grant saved ABT from a financial crisis that could have resulted in the company’s collapse.
  • Fifty years later, the NEA still funds ABT productions. Alexei Ratmansky’s 2015 version of The Sleeping Beauty received a $90,000 grant from the NEA. ABT provided educational workshops to local school children in conjunction with the performances as a result of NEA support.
  • San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Houston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet (to name just a few) all received government arts grants in 2015.

The agency recently released three reports about arts participation in America from 2002-2012. We plucked some of the dance-related findings out of the comprehensive mix.

The Statistics:

  • In 2012, women comprised nearly two thirds of ballet audiences. This gender gap is greater than in all other arts.
  • About 80 percent of ballet audiences were comprised of white adults.
  • Adults with family incomes of less than 20K had the lowest ballet attendance, but adults with family incomes of over 150K had the second lowest.
  • Arts education occurs more commonly in schools than outside of them—except dance education.
  • Reasons people cited for not attending arts events: didn’t have time, cost was too high, were not able to access performances, had no one to go with.

The data raises many questions—why do so few men attend ballets while so few women create them? How do we make performances more accessible and cost effective? Why doesn’t ballet draw diverse audiences? Through the answers, we may find solutions to reversing dwindling arts participation.

 

From When the Going Gets Tough, NEA. Courtesy of the NEA

 

For more info on NEA grants plus its history, programs and studies, go to https://www.arts.gov/.

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