Springing for Art

Welcome, spring. And welcome, spring's annual wide range of museum blockbusters and new exhibitions. But most welcome - word recently from the Association of Art Museum Directors in New York that museums have mostly been able to maintain, or even increase, their pre-9/11 staffing and programs. The report also notes that museum attendance has bounced back to pre-9/11 levels or even higher, despite an overall decline in tourism.

And Americans aren't just interested in the culture that can be found in museum collections. Just last month, the Performing Arts Research Coalition reported "overwhelming support for the nonprofit performing arts" in a project it's conducting in five states - Alaska, Ohio, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

The coalition's survey shows nearly 2 out of 3 respondents said they'd attended a live professional artistic performance the preceding year - more than those who said they'd attended a pro sporting event. Further, 12 to 18 percent of respondents said they had attended a dozen or more arts-related events.

Interestingly, the survey also notes: "The notion that the performing arts appeal only to a narrow segment of the general public does not appear to be accurate."

Even further, people who attend arts events are more active in their communities than those who don't attend, according to the survey. And they're more likely to be involved as volunteers in a range of activities, not just those that are arts-related.

That's all good news for the Van Gogh landscapes at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, the Velázquez and Zurbarán paintings just brought together at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the "Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia" exhibit now at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Houston Grand Opera's "Manon" - just to name a few.

Now if they could just get the ticket prices down.

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