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Celebrating Arts and Humanities Month

October 6, 2014

October is National Arts and Humanities Month, the largest annual celebration for the arts and humanities in the United States. According to Americans for the Arts, National Arts and Humanities Month is a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America, and it is designed to encourage all Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of active participation in the arts.

Participation in the arts is the subject of a periodic survey of Americans by the National Endowment for the Arts, the agency responsible for distributing federal government grant funds to arts organizations. The results of the 2012 study, which is conducted with the U.S. Census Bureau, showed that nearly half of all adult Americans (49 percent or 115 million people) attended at least one type of visual or performing arts activity in 2012.

59 percent of adults attended at least one movie, an activity that increased substantially among most demographic groups since the last survey in 2008. More than half of American adults read a work of literature or a book (fiction or nonfiction) not required for work or school, and about half of the nation's adults created, performed or shared art of various types. And, roughly half of all adults had experienced some arts learning at some point in their lives, whether through classes or lessons, in or out of school.

Nonprofit arts and humanities organizations also have a substantial economic impact in the country. According to the latest Americans for the Arts' Arts & Economic Prosperity report, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $135.2 billion of economic activity -- $61.1 billion by the organizations themselves and $74.1 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences. (An average arts attendee spends $24.60 per event, not including the cost of admission.)

This economic activity supports 4.13 million full-time jobs and generates $86.68 billion in resident household income, and it generates $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments every year.

How can you join the celebration? Americans for the Arts suggests the following ways:

  • Host or attend a National Arts and Humanities Month event in your community.
  • Secure a proclamation from your elected officials to make National Arts and Humanities Month an official annual commemoration in your city or town.
  • Lead or participate in the NAMH #ShowYourArt Instagram campaign. Upload photos and videos to your Instagram account with the tags #ShowYourArt and @Americans4Arts, and share to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites.

In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing information about how American Express supports arts and culture in general, and historic preservation in particular, around the world.

If you have a comment or question, please follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and let's start a conversation there.

Next week: Saving America's National Treasures


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