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New survey finds those with higher education were more likely to receive arts instruction

CalArts Summer Program - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Teachers John Stephens, left, and Debasish Chaudhury lead a class in North Indian music on Friday, Aug. 2 at Cal Arts.

Only about a third of high school graduates reported taking an arts class or lesson in childhood, according to a new national survey out Thursday, but rates increased with more education.

More than half of college graduates - 59 percent - said they'd taken an art class or lesson in childhood.

The survey is the sixth of its kind from the National Endowment of the Arts, which partnered with the Census Bureau to produce the 2012 data.

The most common class was music lessons. Of adults who said they'd received arts classes as a kid, 36 percent reported playing an instrument, 19 percent participated in visual arts and 18 percent took an arts appreciation or art history class. 

"This iteration of the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts is our most comprehensive look yet at the myriad ways art works for Americans," NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa, said in a statement.

The percentage of adults who reported participating in arts education through "classes, lessons, or through informal instruction (from friends, family tradition, or teaching oneself)" at some point in their lives was 56 percent.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, which serves about 650,000 Southern California students, does not provide arts education to all students. The district estimates students on average spend 2 percent of their K-12 careers learning about the arts.

Arts education is just one facet of the NEA survey. It also looked at attendance rates for art events and asked adults whether they read novels or poetry, among other things. The group said it'll release more results next year.

The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts was first conducted in 1982.

 

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