As the nation's ethnic and racial composition fundamentally shifts, the leading national source of data on arts participation has a critical shortcoming: it does not provide a clear picture of arts participation among Hispanics and people who aren't white. Conducted every five years by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) consistently reports that non-Hispanic whites have the highest rates of arts participation (with two exceptions: African Americans have the highest attendance at live jazz performances and Asian Americans have the highest museum attendance). However, the types of arts participation measured by the SPPA systematically bias its results. Examining the particular demographic characteristics of ethnic and racial populations in the United States makes apparent how these biases disproportionately affect SPPA findings on arts participation among Hispanics and people who aren't white.
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