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Coloradans Are Number One When It Comes To Attending Arts Events

Feb 6, 2020

Models work the runway for the "Green is the New Black" fashion show from Carbondale Arts.
Credit Carbondale Arts

A new study from the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Census says that Colorado tops the nation when it comes to attending arts and culture events, like plays, concerts and art exhibits. 

The State‐Level Estimates of Arts Participation Patterns study, conducted once every five years, looks at how many adults participate in a wide variety of arts activities in each state.


Morning Edition Host Molly Dove: So Colorado is number one in the nation when it comes to attending arts events? 

Reporter Christin Kay: That’s right. In Colorado, three out of four adults went to some visual or performing arts event in a 12-month period. That’s compared with an average of about 54% of adults in the U.S. That includes attending an art exhibit, a music performance, a play, a craft fair... even a circus. 

The report also breaks down what types of arts events people are attending. 67% of Coloradans saw live performances of music or dance or theatre, compared with just under 49% of the US population. 


Credit Office of Research & Analysis National Endowment for the Arts

What other types of activities did this study examine? 


One was attendance at art exhibits — painting, sculpture and other visual arts. 

We’re at the top of the charts here, too. Colorado is second only to the District of Columbia when it comes to attending art exhibits. 42% of state residents have gone to an art show in the past year, and in the U.S., that number is only about 22%. 

Our state also performs and creates art at a higher rate than the U.S. average. That can mean anything from acting, to photography and painting, to woodworking and crocheting. 

Why does Colorado rank so high when it comes to participating in the arts? 

This study says that education and economic levels corrolate with attending arts events, and notes that Colorado does rank fairly highly when it comes to education and household incomes.

Amy Kimberly, the executive director of Carbondale Arts, says initiatives from the state of Colorado also play a part here.


"The commitment to the arts from our state has really helped push the arts into the forefront," she said.

She says the state has done things like bring Colorado Creative Industries under the umbrella of the state economic development office, as well as put into place rural tourism initiatives that focus on the arts. 



A snapshot of creative jobs in Carbondale, CO.
Credit Creative Vitality Index

It might give us all kind of a warm fuzzy feeling to know that we value the arts so much here in Colorado, but what does this mean when it comes to our economy? 

Over $14 million dollars of Colorado’s gross domestic product comes from the arts and culture sector. That makes it the fifth largest industry in our state. 

Kimberly noted that in Carbondale alone, there are about 866 jobs in the creative industries, and she says ski areas like ours have always depended on the arts for income during the summer months. 

"Now, in many of these ski resort communities, summertime income is larger than the winter economy, and that is due to festivals, art, music — attracting people through those avenues," she said.