A fascinating article in the Washington Post, “The Sunning Geographic Divide in American Creativity,” uses polling data collected by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA and the US Census asked residents if they had created works of art or performed in 2014. “Works of art” was defined broadly to include everything from ceramics to weaving, photography, creative writing, and more. “Performing” included playing a musical instrument, acting, singing, and dancing.
The NEA’s data shows the geographic divide is not between the Coasts and Fly-over Country. It is between North and South. And the differences are stark. Surprisingly so, at least to me.
As a social scientist, I would like to see the data analyzed with some key variables held constantly, particularly income and urban/rural location. I would love to see a county-by-county map, too. Would it show large states like Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Illinois had some regions that were more engaged in creative arts and some that were less? Why did some poor states, such as Maine and Wyoming, have such high percentages while Mississippi, Louisiana, and Kentucky had such low ones? I have no idea. But the map does prompt those questions, which is why I find it so interesting.