More people attend art events in Denver than any other U.S. city, according to NEA study

Colorado has surpassed the rest of the nation in arts performance and exhibition attendance, according to a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts. The study collected data from adults over the age of 18 from across the U.S.

The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area leads the top 35 metropolitan statistical areas with a 76.8% attendance rate at performing arts events, compared to a national average of 48.5%. According to the NEA, more Denverites went to plays, concerts or dance performances than anyone else in the country this past year.

Denver is also first in arts exhibitions attendance, with 55.3% compared to the 22.7% national average.

Margaret Hunt, executive director of Colorado Creative Industries, said there are two main factors for Denver love of the arts. First, local citizens have access to high-quality arts performances and experiences throughout Colorado. And second, the states strong economy allows for citizens to have a high-enough income to allow participation in the arts, she said.

The arts can address challenging topics, Hunt said. It shines a light on social issues in an educational and informative way.

In the study, the Mile High City ranked third in reading, with 62.5% of residents reporting they had read a book within the last 12 months. Only Boston and Minneapolis fared better, with 64% and 66.7% of their respective populations cracking books.

Still, Coloradans are more avid arts enthusiasts than the majority of the nation. In the NEAs 2016 study, Colorado ranked No. 1 in the percentage of residents whopersonally perform or create artwork. That year,Colorado also took second place in movie attendance and third place for reading literature and attending music, dance and theater performances.

It really makes us look good, Hunt said of Colorados high ranking in the studies, adding that arts have the power to attract newcomers. The arts and cultural scene are much more attractive to employees.

Nationally, 57% of adults said they had read a book for fun in the last year. The survey did not count audiobooks or electronic reading materials as reading a book, but 74% of U.S. adults said they had used electronic media to access art including books and audiobooks within the last year.

But here in Colorado, at least according to the NEA, people are statistically more likely to get out of the house and see a performance than to stay in with an audiobook.

People want to have an experience, Hunt said. Its the quality of life that makes Colorado an amazing place.

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