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Almost all Connecticut residents engage with arts and culture, new survey says

FILE: Choreographer and costume designer Grace Wright performs during East Hartford’s Juneteenth celebration. Grace Wright dances on stage wearing one of her own costumes, in a piece influenced by African and European cultures. Performance filmed for Where ART Thou?, East Hartford Episode 205 on June 18, 2022, East Hartford Green.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
FILE: Choreographer and costume designer Grace Wright performs during East Hartford’s Juneteenth celebration wearing one of her own costumes, in a piece influenced by African and European cultures. The performance was filmed for an episode of Where ART Thou? on June 18, 2022.

A new survey released by CT Humanities takes an eye-opening look at how, when and why Connecticut residents engage with the arts, culture and humanities in the state.

The comprehensive survey is intended to give arts and culture organizations valuable information that can be used to better serve their audiences and ultimately bolster the entire sector.

The big picture is encouraging for those organizations — just over 9 in 10 Connecticut residents participated in cultural activities over the last two years. And just as many participated in informal arts and culture activities such as reading or hobbies. Of those surveyed, 88% agreed that the Connecticut legislature should work to support the state’s cultural organizations, while roughly 8 in 10 said cultural organizations contribute to their community’s economy.

The survey went further, getting a sense of what specific cultural activities those surveyed participated in. Reading a book, pursuing a hobby or craft and traveling for leisure topped the list, while visiting a museum and attending a performing arts event were further down the list at 28% and 26%, respectively. The survey also looked at the types of museums and performing arts they are most likely to attend.

“Zoos and aquariums top the list of museums, they always do,” said Susie Wilkening of Wilkening Consulting, which conducted the survey for CT Humanities. “Plays and musicals and contemporary music — country, rock, R&B, any kind of concert like that, those are the most popular forms of performing arts they are likely to attend.”

Along with demographic information in the poll, arts and cultural organizations got a sense of who their audience is, what motivates them to attend a museum or concert and what their leisure activities are — all information that can help organizations better serve their audience.

For instance, museum-goers care to spend their leisure time doing outdoor activities and spending time in nature, according to the survey.

“If you are a museum, and you are not fully utilizing your outdoor spaces, this is something you may want to think about doing more of, because according to Connecticut residents, that is something that is more of interest to museum-goers,” Wilkening said.

Conversely, performing arts patrons are more interested in spending leisure time watching sporting events and reading — suggesting that performing arts organizations find ways to partner with local sports teams or the public library to better appeal to their audience.

Wilkening said the survey sample of more than 1,000 adult residents reflected Connecticut’s population on measures such as educational attainment, age, race and ethnicity.

The results of the survey can be found at the CT Humanities website.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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