National Arts Index (NAI), United States, 1996-2017 (ICPSR 37309)

Version Date: May 14, 2019 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Roland J. Kushner, Muhlenberg College; Randy Cohen, Americans for the Arts (Organization)

Version V1

NAI 1996-2017

The National Arts Index (NAI) was developed in the mid-2000s by Americans for the Arts as a way of tracking the health and vitality of arts and culture in the United States over time. Annual NAI reports were published in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016.

NAI's main features included:

  • A policy index providing a summary annual score which aggregated 81 individual indicators of arts finance, capacity, participation, and competitiveness
  • A compendium of data with detail on each indicator including its origin and an interpretation of its significance accompanied by a chart representing change in the indicator over time.

Americans for the Arts seeks to build recognition and support for the extraordinary and dynamic value of the arts and to lead, serve, and advance the diverse networks and organizations and individuals who cultivate the arts in America.

Kushner, Roland J., and Cohen, Randy. National Arts Index (NAI), United States, 1996-2017. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2019-05-14.

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Americans for the Arts
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1996 -- 2017
2010 -- 2019

For more information on the National Arts Index, please read "Chapter 8 - Methodology" of any of the full NAI reports available for download at National Arts Index Reports Download Center.


The purpose of the National Arts Index (NAI) is to provide an annual measure of the vitality of arts and culture in the United States.

The P.I.s used the nation as the unit of analysis. To measure a wide range of national arts and culture activity, the P.I.s gathered several hundred micro-level specific measures of arts activity, resources, participation, and character, from which 81 useful national-level indicators of arts and culture were produced. The P.I.s set each of the indicators in a conceptual framework, the Arts and Culture Balanced Scorecard.

Secondary data was obtained from different sources including: the federal government, private membership organizations, professional societies, trade groups, research institutions, and commercial data providers. Criteria for including a particular indicator for the NAI are:

  • The indicator has at its core a meaningful measurement of arts and culture activity
  • The data are national in scope
  • The data are produced annually by a reputable organization
  • Five years of data are available, beginning no later than 2003 and available through 2008
  • Measured at a ratio level (not just on rankings or ratings)
  • Statistically valid, even if based on sample
  • Expected to be available for use in the Index
  • Affordable within project budget constraints

Time Series

Arts-related data sources in the United States

Americans for the Arts

Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce

Indiana University Center on Philanthropy

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)

National Endowment for the Arts

International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce

National Association of Music Merchants

Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Public Broadcasting System


Conference Board

Office of Labor Management Standards, Department of Labor

American Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers (ASCAP)

American Association of Museums

Radio Research Consortium

Opera America

Books in Print database

Theatre Communications Group


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor

Bureau of Economic Analysis

Robert Morris Associates

Almighty Music Marketing

National Center for Education Statistics, Department of Education

Scarborough Research

Recording Industry Association of America

American Association of Publishers

Foundation Center

Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Motion Picture Association of America

Beautiful Asset Advisors LLC

College Board

League of American Orchestras

Broadway League

National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute

National Association of Theater Owners

administrative records data

This study has 21 cases and 81 variables. Cases include years 1996-2017. Variables include national-level measures of: financial flows in arts and culture, capacity and infrastructure in arts and culture, participation in arts and culture, and the competitiveness of arts and culture.

The national level indicators aggregated the 81 indicators into four major areas:

  • Financial Flows: philanthropy, artist income, business revenue, payments for artistic services
  • Capacity: artists, organizations, employment
  • Arts Participation: consumption of arts activities, attendance, experiences
  • Competitiveness: the position of the arts compared to other sectors; market share, how the arts compete for philanthropy, discretionary spending

Not applicable

Not applicable




The data in RAW spreadsheet and DATA spreadsheet are not weighted. The WEIGHT spreadsheet was applied to the INDEX spreadsheet which was used to produce the visualization, NAIChart.



  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

Free and easy access to data on the arts and on the arts' value and impact for individuals and communities