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Article Published: 20 Oct 2021

Essential Connections

“Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation” is a monumental research project examining the connections between American communities and the arts-and-culture sector. The national study, a collaboration between the research firms Slover Linett and LaPlaca Cohen, polled over 75,000 respondents on their attitudes toward the cultural organizations in their communities, with special consideration to effects of the pandemic and current social justice movements. The full "Culture + Community" report will be published in November.

The initiative sought to assess the current experience of Americans and explore how the arts might now fit in their lives. It also delved into ways arts organizations can help, and how open the arts sector might be to change. “Culture + Community” also paid special attention to perceptions of social injustice in arts and culture.

A clear finding that has emerged through the study is the heightened sense of civic engagement among operagoers—people who have attended live performances in recent years. American opera audiences, compared to the population as a whole, are more participatory in the arts in general, more likely to offer financial support, and more involved in political activism.

“Operagoers are omnivores,” says Jen Benoit- Bryan, vice president and co-director of research at Slover Linett. “They’re highly active across many genres of arts and culture attendance, and they tend to be doing creative activities themselves as well. They’re also deeply invested in the art form, and they want it to be relevant more broadly and to more people.”

*The study defines “operagoers” as people who have attended in-person performances within the past few years.

This article was published in the Fall 2021 issue of Opera America Magazine.