INTRODUCTION: THE QUESTION OF PARTICIPATION
In 2002, Lucas Held, director of communications for the New York City-based Wallace Foundation, received a phone call that left him puzzled. A Chicago Tribune reporter was on the line, gathering reactions to a press release that summarized the results of the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA), a long-established survey conducted every ve years by the National Endowment for the Arts. The press release highlighted the fact that overall attendance was up and that a majority of Americans had participated in an arts activity over the last year. But the gures also showed participation was down in some areas and that some audiences were getting older. “The Wallace Foundation has been supporting arts participation for years, what is your reaction to these gures? What do these gures mean?” the reporter asked.