Rural Arts, Design, and Innovation in America

Rural Arts, Design, and Innovation in America

Rural arts organizations attract more non-local visitors as a share of their audience and report greater civic leadership and customer "connectedness" than urban organizations, a report from the National Endowment for the Arts finds. The report, Rural Arts, Design, and Innovation in America: Research Findings From the Rural Establishment Innovation Survey (18 pages, PDF), found that 31 percent of visitors to rural organizations travel "beyond a reasonable drive" and 5.8 percent travel from abroad, compared with 19.3 percent and 1.8 percent of visitors to urban organizations. According to the study, rural arts organizations are nearly as likely as urban organizations (27.3 percent vs. 32.3 percent) to be "substantive innovators" that launch new products and services, make data-driven decisions, and/or create intellectual property worth protecting — a level of parity not seen in other service sectors. They also are as or more likely to value feedback from employees (62.6 percent vs. 61.9 percent) and customers (38 percent vs. 25.9 percent) and to provide "a lot of" (36 percent vs. 23.9 percent) or "some" (54.1 percent vs. 52.5 percent) civic leadership. In addition, in rural counties, the number of businesses that are substantive innovators and/or that fully integrate design into their processes was positively associated with the presence of performing arts organizations.