Is there any other kind of arts participation study anymore? Seriously, if you find one that isn't depressing, please let us know.

This one, released on June 2009 from surveys done in 2008 (before the current economic crisis), begins with the sentence "American audiences for the arts are getting older, and their numbers are declining, according to new research released today by the National Endowment for the Arts." You can read the rest of the executive summary here or download the thing here.

Why do I feel like I've already read it?

In brief: They've been doing studies every five years since 1982 and arts participation is decreasing across the board. In 1982, it was 40% of the population; now its 35% of the population. The performing arts have seen double digit declines since 1982.

I won't go on; it can get to be too much. Read the report yourself -- or, you could visit this blog, playgoer, where he actually puts a positive spin on the numbers because they're not as bad as they might be.

The optimists shall inherit the earth, perhaps.