Throckmorton TheatreThe 94941 is chock full of incredible live music, live performance arts, live theatre and much more all year long – it’s built into the fabric of who we are as a community.

Look no further than incredible venues like the venerable Sweetwater Music Hall, which has top-notch live music just about every night of the week, the Marin Theatre Company, our theatrical gem, and the Throckmorton Theatre, just to name a few.

In recent years, we’ve added to that fabric, including with a major live music festival in the form of the Mill Valley Music Fest, which drew nearly 10,000 people to town in mid-May.

But while Mill Valley is rich with arts and culture at every level, we should never take it for granted.

That message comes through loud and clear in a recent Washington Post report: “Research released by the National Endowment for the Arts found that significantly fewer American adults are attending cultural activities such as classical music concerts, theater productions and movies than they did before the coronavirus pandemic. Just 48 percent of adults reported attending at least one arts event from July 2021 to July 2022, according to the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which has been administered by the Census Bureau roughly every five years since 1982. That number represents a six-point drop from the most recent survey in 2017, amplifying alarm bells that the arts community is struggling to regain its pre-shutdown audience.

Digital options appear to have taken away from some of those in-person thrills.

In addition to drawing on the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, the NEA’s research also cited the 2022 General Social Survey. That survey found that 82 percent of respondents watched or listened to arts activities through digital platforms between 2021 and 2022, suggesting a robust online engagement that persisted even as in-person events returned.

“The National Endowment for the Arts has a longstanding commitment to providing the arts and culture field and the general public with accurate and relevant research,” NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson said in a statement. “Taken together, these reports help to reveal the state of arts participation in our country.”

Social media (17 percent) was the most common tool people reported using to discover arts events they ultimately attended, followed by friends, neighbors or co-workers (about 15 percent) and print/broadcast media (about 11 percent).

One area of increase was “other performing arts,” which the survey noted could encompass pop, rock, hip-hop and country music concerts, comedy shows and circus acts. That number rose about six points, to around 21 percent.


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