I have belatedly stumbled on a very good arts blog (hosted by ArtsJournal) by one Andrew Taylor, who, among other things, runs an Arts Admin program at Madison Wisconsin. Here's an interesting post of his on that recent study about America's increasing commute time.
What does this mean for cultural institutions? If your facility is in the downtown core, it means your potential audience has a longer drive home, and may not even be coming downtown anymore. If your facility is in the suburbs, your audience may be coming home tired and ready to cocoon. But if you're creative about when and how you connect with an audience, there are lots of interesting ideas awaiting (podcast interviews with your artists for listening in the car, short and early commuter concerts to keep audiences downtown just long enough for the roads to clear, and on and on).
I have a bad reflexive reaction against the podcast idea--but perhaps it would be an interesting way to extend program notes?
Aside from that, though, he's absolutely right about the problem now theatres and concert halls still being downtown when no one lives there. I used to get excited about those plans to build more arts institutions in the cities to bring folks downtown. But I'm not sure that's working. So many of our cities are just ghost towns at night and their nighttime/weekend business all stolen by the malls.
So bring the art to the people, I say! Bring it to where they live. Even if that means the "exurbs."