Arts Research Monitor articles, category = Arts attendance & participation

This brief article, based on data from various American sources, argues that “cultural organizations are not (primarily) asking for money when they aim to secure visitation. Cultural organizations are asking for an investment of time – and that is much more complicated and a bigger ask than many leaders may realize.”

(La fréquentation des arts de la scène au Québec en 2016, Optique culture #56)

This recent report from Quebec’s cultural observatory analyzes performances, paid attendance, and box office revenues related to theatre, dance, music, comedy, circus, and magic performances in 2016, based on a census of Quebec-based performing arts presenters. The 17,200 performances with an admission fee in Quebec in 2016 (a 1% increase from 2009) attracted 7.1 million paid attendees (a 5% decrease from 2009).

Based on a survey of more than 2,000 Canadians (including substantial samples of youth and Indigenous residents), this report highlights information about arts and heritage attendance, personal arts participation, as well as perceptions of cultural activities and government arts support. The report concludes that there is “robust public engagement with arts and culture in Canada”.

Based on a “national mapping of the publicly available programs of 135 mainstream presenters across Australia” in 2015 as well as a custom survey of 44 presenters and interviews with 40 performing arts producers and presenters, this report outlines “the level and types of First Nations performing arts programming in Australia’s mainstream venues and festivals; the presenting of works to audiences; and the motivations and obstacles for presenters and producers”. The key finding of the mapping exercise is that “First Nations performing arts are under-represented in Australia’s mainstream venues and festivals”, comprising only 2% of the nearly 6,000 works that were programmed in 2015.

An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes about the Arts in America

Based on an online survey of 3,020 American adults in December 2015, this report summarizes responses to a series of questions about arts engagement, education, government funding, and the benefits to individuals and communities.

Summary Report

Based on five research streams (two online public surveys, two sets of focus groups, and key informant interviews), this report summarizes the “current attitudes of English-speaking Canadians about the cultural and economic value of written work”. Many English Canadians spend a significant proportion of their leisure time reading: 80% spend about five to eight hours reading each week, “representing about one-quarter of their overall leisure time”. One-half of respondents indicated that they read books in digital formats. Spending on books is about $300 per purchaser per year, or $250 yearly for each English-Canadian adult, including those who did not buy books during the past year.

(Les arts et la culture au Québec : Portrait de la perception des Québécois)

Based on an online survey of 1,410 Quebec residents (18 and older) in September 2015, this report highlights the public’s perceptions of artists, their role in society, impacts of the cultural sector, and the governmental role in supporting culture. In general, 77% of respondents believe that the arts and culture are important to them. Annual arts participation rates are 78% for cinemas, 71% for the performing arts, and 49% for museums.

This report examines “the relationship between cultural engagement and momentary wellbeing” using a United Kingdom dataset called Mappiness, which collects information from a mobile app that captures people’s ratings of their happiness and relaxation as well as their activities at the time (including certain cultural activities). The authors caution that the dataset “is not fully representative of the UK” and that “causation cannot be directly inferred”.

Quality Metrics National Test

The Quality Metrics National Test attempted to measure the value and impact of 374 events, exhibitions, or performances produced by 150 arts and culture organizations in England between November 2015 and May 2016. The National Test used ratings from surveys of three groups of respondents: 1,358 self-assessments by cultural organization representatives, 921 peer assessments, and 19,800 public responses. Given that public respondents self-selected whether to participate in the survey, there is uncertainty as to whether the respondents provide a representative sample of the overall population of arts-goers in England.

Summarizing existing research studies and incorporating new analyses of existing statistical sources, the core argument of this report is that arts “participation builds belonging”, which can be defined as how people connect with others and engage with their communities. The report attempts to provide “compelling data and stories that demonstrate the power of the arts to build a greater sense of belonging to our communities, to our country, and to each other”.