The American Paradox

In a survey of attitudes toward artists in the U.S. a vast majority  of Americans, 96%, said they were greatly inspired by various kinds of art  and highly value art in their lives and communities. But the data suggests  a strange paradox.

While Americans value art, the end product, they do not value what artists do. Only 27% of respondents believe that artists contribute “a lot” to the good of society.

Further interview data from the study reflects a strong sentiment in the cultural community that society does not value art making as legitimate work worthy of compensation. Many perceive the making of art as a frivolous or recreational pursuit.

Other insights further illuminate the depth of the paradox:

• A majority of parents think that teaching the arts is as important as reading, math, science, history, and geography.

• 95% believe that the arts are important in preparing children for the future.

• In the face of a changing global economy, economists increasingly emphasize that the United States will have to rely on innovation, ingenuity, creativity, and analysis for its competitive edge—the very skills that can be enhanced by engagement with the arts.

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