Fiber Arts Participation Increased 2008-2012, NEA Says

The new National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts indicates 31.5 million U.S. adults participated in fiber arts in 2012, an increase of 2 million people since 2008. These participants did weaving, crocheting, knitting, quilting, needlepoint, or sewing. The NEA uses U.S. Census survey data, so it is highly accurate.(See Hart comment on a 2012 NEA fiber arts methodology change.)

The NEA has been tracking fiber arts participation for 20 years. The percentage of adults participating in fiber arts has gone down by about half in that period:

  • 1992: 24.8%
  • 2002: 16.0%
  • 2008: 13.1%
  • 2012: 13.2%

NEA Fiber Arts Participation Methodology Note

This methodology note comments on the posting regarding growth in fiber arts participation.

Hart notes there was one methodology change to the fiber arts group definition in 2012 that likely did not affect participation rates in the group: The NEA added knitting to “weaving, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, or sewing.”  Hart analysis indicates this did not affect participation rates because the group of adults doing weaving, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, or sewing already includes nearly all the knitters since so many knitters also do at least one of the other fiber arts. The Craft and Hobby Association Attitude & Usage Study data for the year ending 3/31/2011 shows the average fiber arts (“needle craft” in CHA terminology) participant does 1.6 different fiber arts, as calculated by Hart Business Research. For example, for knitters 48% also crocheted, 25% or more also sewed, and 21% quilted.