Target Underwrites Cultural Staycations

Ugo Rondione

At this point in the summer, the "staycation" may be as dull as another Sunday of backyard whiffle ball. So Target Corp. says it is sponsoring a long list of local art events, offering 2,200 free days at more than 100 museums, theaters and cultural institutions throughout the country.

The sponsorships, which also include some reduced-ticket price events, range from the mainstream (New York City's Museum of Modern Art, where Friday night attendance is free, for example, or the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston) to regional (Miami Children's Museum, free the third Friday of the month) or local musical events, such as the Oklahoma City's Arts Council's Twilight music series.

The Minneapolis-based retailer says almost 60% of Americans are looking to find less expensive activities in which to partake this summer, while 48% are vacationing closer to home.



"At Target, we want to make sure that our guests and their families have the opportunity to enjoy amazing museums and performing arts institutions year-round, no matter the cost," the company says in its release. "By taking advantage of free, local events this summer, families can plan the ultimate family field trip or 'staycation' that is fun, affordable and educational."

Target's sponsorship comes at a good time, with many museums reporting a falloff in attendance. A survey released by the National Endowment of the Arts last month reported persistent declines in participation for most art forms, with just 35% of U.S. adults -- or an estimated 78 million -- attending an art museum or an arts performance in the 2008 survey period, compared with about 40% in 1982, 1992, and 2002.

The U.S. rate of attendance for art museums fell from a high of 26% in 1992-2002 to 23% in 2008, comparable to the 1982 level. And between 1982 and 2008, attendance at performing arts such as classical music, jazz, opera, ballet, musical theater, and dramatic plays has also registered double-digit declines.

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