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A Study of College Student Preferences towards Music and the Performing Arts

With funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College commissioned a multi-site research effort in 2012 aimed at gauging how to maximize college students' performing arts attendance and participation, with a focus on the particular challenges of classical music. The study culminated in June 2013 with a national symposium of students, faculty and campus presenters drawn from the Major University Presenters (MUP) consortium to analyze and form action recommendations out of the research.

Four research reports are available for free download:

Overview of Findings, a synthesis of all the research findings (12 pages).

Case Studies in Good Practice, a stand-alone report describing a wide range of existing practices employed by campus presenters to build student participation in the performing arts, including:

  • Student ticketing policies
  • Event Strategies for Informing, Attracting, and Engaging First-Year Students
  • Academic Integration: Building Curricular Ties
  • Academic Integration: Dedicated Coursework
  • Participatory Engagement
  • Structural Integration of Students into Presenting Work
  • Student Engagement through Interdisciplinary Artist Residencies

Consolidated Focus Group Report, a high level summary of 18 focus group discussions conducted on seven campuses, with a deep focus on barriers to classical music attendance and strategies for surmounting them.

Results of a Survey of Undergraduate Students on Seven University Campuses, a detailed summary and technical report on a survey of 9,786 undergraduate students on seven campuses, covering arts participation patterns, music preferences and attitudes about classical music attendance.

The same materials, as well as additional information about the June 2013 symposium and forthcoming Call to Action for Campus Presenters, are available at

Research Partners

Eight campus presenters participated in the research by conducting focus groups, fielding surveys of undergraduates, and considering what campus presenters and their partners can do to engage more students.

  • Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (commissioning partner)
  • Carolina Performing Arts, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Hancher, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
  • Lied Center of Kansas, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
  • Texas Performing Arts, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
  • University Musical Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • UW World Series, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington


Engaging Next Generation Audiences: A Study of College Student Preferences towards Music and the Performing Arts was commissioned by The Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College with funding support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.



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