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CNU Survey

Survey Says City Residents Believe the City Should Financially Support Arts and Culture

Jan. 13, 2014

Newport News residents value the city’s broad range of arts and cultural attractions, and strongly believe the city should support them financially, according to a survey conducted for the Virginia Living Museum by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

Among the survey’s key findings, the Virginia Living Museum is one of the most visited and admired of the city’s arts and cultural attractions, with nearly two-thirds of respondents visiting the museum within the last five years. Of respondents with children, nearly two-thirds of their children have visited the museum. Residents have overwhelming positive views of the VLM and its value to Newport News, the region and the state.

Residents strongly support the city providing both general and targeted financial support to cultural and arts institutions. Residents think all of the arts and cultural institutions in Newport News are currently receiving some sort of public funding, even if they in fact are not, and they are very supportive of public funding, according to the survey.

“Newport News residents see the city’s arts and cultural institutions as vital to the quality of life in Newport News, and strongly agree that they should be financially supported by the city. Given how many residents and their children visit the Virginia Living Museum annually – and over the years – it is clearly at the center of many people’s arts and cultural experience in Newport News,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy.

“The survey reinforces what we know to be true; that the Virginia Living Museum is important in the lives of Newport News residents and is perceived as a significant player in the education of our community,” said Page Hayhurst, executive director of the museum.

The survey contacted 425 Newport News residents Sept. 11-16, with 263 interviews conducted via landline telephone and 162 via cell phone. The survey’s total margin of error is +/- 4.75 at the 95% level of confidence. The data has been weighted using an iterative weighting process on sex, age, and race to reflect the demographic composition of city residents.

The survey shows Newport News residents are happy with their quality of life, are very aware of the arts and cultural offerings in the city, and think those arts and cultural offerings are very important to the quality of life in the City. Overall, 74% of city residents say that Newport News is a very good or good place to live, and 76% say their own neighborhood is a very good or good place to live. Finally, 38% of respondents say Newport News has become better in the last several years.

City residents are very familiar with the various arts and cultural attractions in Newport News, with 89% of respondents saying that they are familiar with specific ones, particularly those along the Cultural Corridor of J. Clyde Morris Boulevard and the Avenue of the Arts. The Virginia Living Museum and the Mariners’ Museum and Park are the most visited attractions in the city, followed by the Ferguson Center for the Arts and the SPCA & Petting Zoo. Residents highly value these institutions with 70% of respondents saying that the arts and cultural institutions they have visited are very important to the quality of life in the city.

In describing what they thought was the primary source of funding for each of the 13 arts and cultural attractions in Newport News, respondents assumed that all of the institutions had a mix of funding sources, including government funding, private funding and admissions fees.

Residents think all of the arts and cultural institutions in Newport News are currently receiving some sort of public funding, even if they in fact are not, and they are very supportive of public funding. By overwhelming margins (96%) respondents say it is the right thing for the city to provide general financial support to arts and cultural attractions, and large margins (66%) say it is the right thing for the city to provide targeted financial support.

Newport News residents and their children are active users of the Virginia Living Museum, and admire and value it very much. They think the museum provides family-oriented fun, broad educational opportunities, and is an overall value-added asset to the city, both culturally and economically, and say the museum enhances the image of Newport News.

Just under one-third (31%) of city residents have visited the museum within the past year, while 19% have visited it in the past three years, and 15% have visited it in the past five years. Additionally, of those residents who have children, three-fourths of those children (76%) have visited the museum at some point, and over half of those children (55%) have visited in the last year.

Children have fun at the museum, according to 94% of respondents. And it is not just fun, but educational as well, as 85% of respondents say their children learned about the environment, 84% say their children learned about science, 85% say they learned about animals, and 69% say they learned about conservation while visiting the museum.

Nearly all respondents (97%) agree that the Virginia Living Museum is a place to spend quality family time and that it is a place that provides outstanding educational opportunities for children (98%).

Respondents feel the Virginia Living Museum has a positive impact. Nearly three-fourths (74%) say that it increases tourism to Newport News, 68% say that it adds to the City’s economy, and 76% say that it improves the quality of life in Newport News. Just over eight-in-ten residents say that it increases awareness of conservation issues. And overall, 61% of residents feel that the Virginia Living Museum enhances the image of Newport News to the rest of Virginia.

The survey was financed by an anonymous donor.

The Virginia Living Museum is a private non-profit museum and education center. For more information call 757-595-1900 or visit thevlm.org

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