National Endowment for the Arts' Research Report Offers New Information on Dance
September 10, 2003
Washington, D.C. - The National Endowment for the Arts releases a new research report today, Raising the Barre: The Geographic, Financial, and Economic Trends of Nonprofit Dance Companies. Among the developments the report examines are the growth and decline in the number of dance companies, their geographic concentration, and the generation of earned and unearned income. The report's study period is 1987 to 1997 a period of significant change for dance including the 1990-91 recession, the end of the "dance boom," and decreases in the availability of funding.
Arts Endowment Chairman Dana Gioia said, "Contrary to its artistically ephemeral nature, American dance has proven resilient to shifting economic conditions. Dance companies' ability to adapt to changing environments speaks to their creativity and persistence. I'm proud that the Arts Endowment continues to play a vital role in helping sustain dance companies and supporting their ongoing efforts to bring their excellent work to audiences."
During the 10-year study period, the number of nonprofit dance companies increased by 93 percent from 188 companies in 1987 to 363 in 1997, outpacing general population growth. For example, while population in the West increased by 19 percent, the number of dance companies increased by 100 percent. In the late 1990s, this significant increase was offset, however, by the termination of companies. Together the two trends suggest that the field could be approaching a "steady state" or period of slow growth.
The report also reveals that dance companies relied more on ticket sales and individual donations. Companies' earned income increased from 62.7 percent in 1992 to 70.6 percent in 1999. At the same time, although the amount of unearned income from foundations, government and business declined, individual contributions rose. In 1987 individual contributions constituted 27 percent of unearned income rising to 36 percent in 1997.
Geographically, dance companies were concentrated in the Northeast and the West. In 1997, New York ranked first with 81 dance companies and California, second with 45 companies. Further, companies were concentrated in seven highly populated states. Aside from New York and California those states were Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Illinois. The study did note some dispersal from those seven states of companies residing there from 61 percent in 1989 to 54 percent in 1999.
Cuts to the Arts Endowment's budget in 1996 also affected the dance field. The Arts Endowment's dance funding declined from an average of $5.7 million between 1988 and 1995 to $2.7 million in 1996. Despite that reduction, the study indicates that the leveraging capacity of that funding remained a strong force for dance company support. Every $1 in Arts Endowment grant funds attracted approximately $3.50 from other public and private sources.
The Arts Endowment's director of dance, Douglas Sonntag, concludes in the report's forward, "Historically, American dance has responded to the challenges of the moment with artistry, ingenuity, wit, and tenacity - all signs of hope for a lively new century."
The report was authored by Thomas M. Smith and produced by the National Endowment for the Arts Research Division. Raising the Barre can be downloaded as a PDF document (1MB). Hard copies can also be requested free of charge through the Arts Endowment's web site.
For more information, call the National Endowment for the Arts Office of Communications at 202-682-5570.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency