NEA study: audience declines, revenues fluctuate

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) issued a report this week (.pdf) that indicates the number of nonprofit theaters doubled between 1990 and 2005.

The growth was mainly in “previously underserved” areas like Nevada, Colorado and Utah. But the takeaway, at least one that might be more relevant to Rahway and the Union County Arts Center, is “…the absolute size of the audience has declined by 16 percent.” During that same time period, “revenues fluctuated sharply with business cycles in the U.S. economy.” Here’s the Star-Ledger’s take on it.

In this economy, the arts will be in for a tough time, if they’re not already. Not good news for UCPAC (or any local theaters for that matter), which has consistently run deficits of five and six figures in four of the past five years, according to its federal tax filings. The only time recently that it broke even was 2006 when it got a $1.3-million infusion thanks to selling the building as part of Union County’s $6-million renovations.