Ten 2020 Trends that Will Impact the Arts

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, Feb 14, 2020

As we turned the corner into 2020, the Americans for the Arts staff put our heads together to come up with 10 big trends that we think are worth paying attention to this year. Some of them you’ll surely already know about—it is an election year, after all! But others may surprise you. Take a read and let us know what you think—what resonates most with you? What is top of your mind that is missing here? And what are you planning to do to prepare?

We’ve listed the high points of each trend here—but if you’re interested in digging deeper, click the link for a longer discussion of each one.

  1. Demographics in the United States are changing faster than ever. We’re becoming older, working and living longer, using the internet and social media at a higher rate, and becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Read more
  1. What we care and worry about is changing—and staying the same. Whether you’re talking about the general population, mayors, or corporations, the top things they care about are shifting—in large part based on what gets discussed in the media, what challenges communities are confronting, and what strategies for solving problems are top-of-mind. Read more
  1. The creative economy is on the rise. A better understanding of the importance of creativity, better data capture, and a general desire for future-proofing all mean that jobs in the creative industries are on the rise. Read more
  1. We’re living through a moment of profound uncertainty and distrust. The ongoing erosion of “truth,” “trust,” and a belief in common values, paired with great uncertainty about the national and global economy, has us in a cautionary and anxiety-ridden time. Read more
  1. Climate change is top-of-mind—at least for now. Outlandish weather shifts, major natural disasters, and the rising prominence of a young corps of climate activists have brought new light and new urgency to issues of climate change, both within and beyond the arts—even as philanthropic dollars going towards climate change struggle to catch up. Read more
  1. The arts sector is demonstrably, if slowly, shifting towards equity. We’re seeing progress towards equity in institutional leadership turnover, efforts to unionize, new methods of field accountability, and a push for pay transparency and more equitable grantmaking and investment. Read more
  1. A fight is looming over who gets counted and who gets to vote. 2020 is shaping up to be a challenging year for anyone who cares about or will be affected by politics—with issues of voter rights, voter suppression, and gerrymandering all top of mind. Read more
  1. The ways that dollars flow to arts and culture are changing. Government dollars are up, private philanthropic dollars are stagnant (and access to them is shifting), and individuals are showing signs of giving less. Meanwhile, a shift towards going local and cutting out the middleman makes it a hard moment for intermediaries. Read more
  2. Artists are uniting to exert political power—and succeeding. Artist collectives are forming powerful political bodies, which are eliciting great work and manifesting political, organizational, and field shifts. Read more
  1. Data is driving the conversation about arts education more than ever before. Greater availability (and easier use) of data on K-12 arts education access continues to illuminate the case and expose gaps in access and impact—which advocates are using to great advantage. Read more

Together, these ten trends will inform Americans for the Arts’ next strategic planning process, which will occur this year to drive our work from 2021 to 2023. More on that soon—in the meantime, we want to hear from you! Comment below or send email to [email protected] if you have trends that you think we need to be thinking about.