Aside from a 3.5 percent increase in reading over the last six years—which we can probably just attribute to Harry Potter, Twilight and the Kindle—our participation in the arts has been in steady decline for the better part of a decade. The NEA cites the recession and reduced arts budgets in the Bush years as possible causes, but totally blames the internet, which, however logical and likely, seems like a very knee-jerk evaluation of the situation.
Cultural participation peaked in the 1991 edition of the survey, which was, like, right before the internet became huge, remember? So obviously, the internet did it. Some numbers: "Between 2002 and 2008, percentages fell for moviegoing from 60 to 53.3, for jazz from 10.8 to 7.8, for museums/galleries from 26.5 to 22.7." Aw, poor jazz. Also in decline: "ballet, opera, musical and nonmusical theater, and art/crafts fairs and festivals." So everything, except maybe for reading, is suffering because of the internet. (Not, you know, because of antiquated models for funding and promoting the arts, and nationwide cultural impoverishment.) Damn you internet! (Artinfo)