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May 6 -- The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) invites public comment to OMB by June 6, 2022 on NEA's request to conduct an Arts Supplement to 2022 General Social Survey.
This request is for clearance of the 2022 Arts Supplement to the General Social Survey (GSS) to be conducted by the National Opinion Research Center on behalf of the National Science Foundation. The Arts Supplement to the GSS will provide important data on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on recent arts participation. The survey data will also complement data collected through the planned 2022 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. The data are circulated to interested researchers, and they are the basis for a range of NEA reports and independent research publications. An arts supplement to the GSS was also conducted in 2012 and 2016. The data will be made available to the public through the agency's data archive, the National Archive of Data on Arts and Culture (NADAC). These data will also be used by the NEA as a contextual measure for one or more of its strategic goals.

The GSS, first conducted in 1972, is a nationally representative survey of adults in the United States. More broadly, the GSS data collection of contemporary American society serves as a statistical barometer of social change and trends, and it helps explain the country’s opinions, attitudes, and behaviors. The NEA now seeks regular clearance so that the agency can better monitor and report to the public the extent to which arts participation in the United States has been affected uniquely by the COVID-19 pandemic. Arts participation is widely recognized as a positive indicator of social and civic well-being. Historical data on arts participation rates through the Survey for Public Participation in the Arts (OMB Control Number 3135-0136), and the Arts Basic Survey (OMB Control Number 3135-0131)—as collected by the NEA in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau—have been included in the OMB “Social Indicators” that appear under “Performance and Management” in the President’s annual budget submission. Studies in the U.S. and abroad have established strong positive relationships between arts participation and health and well-being in individuals.

Designed by the NEA, the 2022 General Social Survey’s Arts Supplement affords the only current vehicle for reporting how U.S. arts participation has changed as a direct result of the pandemic, and for identifying which population subgroups have not resumed these activities, and which may be underserved, having limited access. The NEA will use these data to fulfill its mission of providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation, whether in-person or virtually.

By tracking changes in arts participation during the pandemic, moreover, the NEA will gain a better understanding of how consumption patterns have affected economic recovery of the nation’s arts sector. In 2019, arts and cultural industries contributed $919.7 billion, or 4.3 percent, of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and accounted for 5.2 million salaried workers, earning total compensation of $446 billion. From 2017 to 2019, arts and cultural production increased at a 3 percent clip, slightly higher than the growth rate for the economy as a whole. A year before COVID-19 hit the U.S., consumers spent $28.5 billion on admissions to performing arts events.

Over the last two years, academic, government, and industry reports have shown that arts and cultural employers and businesses are among the hardest hit by the pandemic, and likely will be the slowest to recover. In a January 2021 white paper produced for FEMA’s Recovery Support Function Leadership Group, Argonne National Laboratory analysts concluded from multiple data sources that “[a]cross the spectrum of artistic and creative endeavors, restrictions on gatherings, changes in consumer behavior (voluntary or otherwise), and severe unemployment have taken a devastating toll on the sector.” Recognizing both the outsized economic contributions of the arts and the disproportionate effects from the pandemic, Congress passed two successive relief packages (the CARES Act of 2020 and the American Rescue Plan of 2021) that included stimulus funding for arts jobs and arts and cultural venues and facilities.

Under both pieces of legislation, the NEA received special funds for the purpose of grantmaking to help the sector in its recovery. The 2022 General Social Survey’s Arts Supplement is a critical instrument for assessing the pace of that recovery, allowing the NEA to learn—by combining the survey results with other data sources—whether social and economic conditions for the arts have improved, as a result of the stimulus funding and other measures, and for which industries and subpopulations.

The data will be provided to the public for free through the GSS website as well as through NEA platforms and affiliated platforms, such as the NEA’s data archive: National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture (NADAC). The data also will provide the basis for a range of NEA reports and independent research publications.
NEA Publicly Available Data Sources, including NADAC: https://www.arts.gov/grants/research-awards/publicly-available-data-sources  
NEA submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202204-3135-001 Click IC List for data collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation.  
FR notice inviting comments to OMB (via NEA): https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-09789    
For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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