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Early Arts Lasts a Lifetime, Study Says

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Students who receive school- or community-based arts education are more likely to participate in the arts as adults, a study commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts says.

Arts education was the single strongest predictor of nearly every type of arts participation, according to the study by researchers Louis Bergonzi and Julia Smith of the University of Rochester in New York. Performance was the only category for which arts education played no major role.

The researchers analyzed data from the "1992 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts." More than 12,500 adults responded to the survey, which was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census and released late last month.

Arts participation included attending events (music, opera, drama, dance, museums, or galleries); listening to or watching classical recordings or broadcasts; reading novels; creating works (painting, composing music, writing, photography, needlework); and performing (dance, drama, music).

Mr. Bergonzi and Ms. Smith found that arts education proved to be a stronger predictor of arts involvement than did race or ethnicity, although the higher the social class a person belonged to, the more arts education he or she tended to have.

But, they said, schools tend to mitigate that effect because arts education "weakens the restrictive relationship between social status and arts participation."

--Karen Diegmueller

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