The baby boomers and baby busters -- Americans born after 1945 and through 1976 -- are seriously less serious about the performing arts than their parents.
They attend fewer concerts of classical music, fewer operas, fewer musicals and fewer plays.
On the other hand, they go to art museums more than older generations, and attend ballet and jazz performances about as often. They also watch more art programming on television, listen to the radio more and buy more CDs.
These are some of the findings in a report by the National Endowment for the Arts. The report, titled "Age and Arts Participation: With a Focus on the Baby Boom Cohort," is based on more than 12,000 telephone and in-person interviews conducted in 1982 and 1992 by the Census Bureau.
The highest rate of attendance at cultural performances is by those born between the years 1936 and 1945. Next highest are those born between 1926 and 1935.
The report suggests a "massive shift in taste and tradition as music and mass culture have [begun to] displace arts once considered among humanity's highest accomplishments," said Richard A. Peterson, one of the authors, in a news release.
The findings underscore the importance of arts education for young people, beginning very early, one of NEA's major efforts, NEA chairman Jane Alexander said yesterday in an interview.
"We know that when children have arts education in their lives -- not only arts appreciation but the ability to be creative themselves -- they don't watch as much TV, they get involved in artistic endeavors that involve going to artistic events," she said. "We think that as time goes by, more people will want to experience live events, but that's going to take a decade or so to build up the audience again."
The baby boomers, although better educated than their predecessors, have not kept up with them in attending events, the report says, suggesting that in more boomer families, both spouses are working and still have less disposable income -- and less time.
Alexander said the findings in the report also point to the importance of government support for the arts. In the fiscal 1996 budget, Congress slashed the NEA appropriation by almost 40 percent, from $162.4 million to $99.1 million.
Pub Date: 5/16/96