Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type




First Advisor

Andrew Lindner

Second Advisor

Catherine Berhide


Art has been crucial in fostering individual and community identities, but does arts participation increase levels of civic engagement? I propose that individuals who attend performances and art exhibits participate in more public activities and spend more social evenings with neighbors per year. To test these hypotheses, I analyze 438 cases from the 2016 General Social Survey (GSS). Findings provide partial support for my hypotheses. Regression results reveal that respondents who attended a performance or art exhibit in the last 12 months participated in significantly more public activities. However, there is not a statistically significant relationship between performance and art exhibit attendance with sociability with neighbors. Among control variables, education, family income, and age are significant predictors of participation in public activities. Family income is the only significant predictor of sociability with neighbors. Through a social capital approach, these results suggest that performances and art exhibits are associational activities that strengthen community ties, which increases an individual’s likelihood of voting and socializing with neighbors, friends, and others in public spaces like bars. Future researchers should utilize more specific measures of community involvement and civic engagement to continue studying the relationship between arts participation and civic engagement.