Arts Research Monitor articles, category = Arts attendance & participation

Measuring Cultural Engagement amid Confounding Variables

In an environment of media convergence and digital multi-tasking (with many people paying only partial attention to multiple concurrent tasks), can arts participation surveys capture an accurate picture of people’s activities? Some participants argued that behaviour is observable without a survey, but attitudes, thoughts, and feelings can best be captured by surveys. Others contended that, without benchmark surveys, our understanding of cultural participation would be significantly lessened.

Measuring Cultural Engagement amid Confounding Variables

The symposium tackled some large and challenging questions, such as “what counts as ‘the arts’? and “what do people consider culture?” In many jurisdictions, there has been a broadening of the types of cultural participation or engagement factors measured via surveys. The complexities of cultural participation in a digital world were discussed at the symposium. The importance of places and spaces to cultural participation was also discussed. The complicated reality of cultural participation is difficult to measure.

The report notes that, other than a few differences, diverse Canadians attended at similar rates to other Canadians. Based on these findings, the report concludes that “the range of arts offerings in Canada – from art galleries, classical concerts, and theatre performances to pop concerts and cultural festivals – manages to attract most Canadians to at least one type of activity."

Canadian Social Trends no. 90

This study examines cultural and sports participation by off-reserve Aboriginal children between 6 and 14 years of age, based on the 2006 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (a survey with 11,940 respondents). As reported by parents, the survey found that 40% of Aboriginal children participated at least occasionally “in culturally related activities” (no specific definition provided), while 69% participated at least once a week in sports-related activities.

The National Endowment for the Arts' 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts collected data about the arts activities of more than 37,000 Americans 18 years of age and older. The report provides key arts participation figures.

How interested are Canadians in reading Canadian content?

Based on a survey of 1,005 English-speaking Canadians 18 years of age or older who had bought a book during the month prior to the survey (which was conducted between July and September of 2012), this report finds that only 24% knew that they had read a book by a Canadian author in the past year. In total, 43% of English-speaking Canadian book buyers were unsure whether they had read a book by a Canadian author, while 34% indicated that they knew that they had not done so during the past year.

Between May and July 2012, the Pew Internet and American Life Project surveyed 1,258 arts organizations that had received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts between 2007 and 2011. The survey results cover the use, benefits, and challenges of digital technologies for American arts organizations.

This survey of 891 English arts and culture organizations, conducted in the summer of 2013, examines the organizations’ digital activities, impacts of digital technologies, and the barriers to further digital utilization. This is the baseline year of a three-year longitudinal study.

Insights on Canadian Society

This article, based on the 2010 General Social Survey and the 2010 Canadian Internet Use Survey, finds that there is still a substantial gap in online media consumption between younger Canadians and those 65 or older in terms of internet use, music downloading, and movie or video watching.

Arguing that key economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product have “failed to capture many of the factors that influence people's lives”, this comparative international report attempts to provide “a better understanding of what drives the well-being of people and nations and what needs to be done to achieve greater progress for all”. The index is comprised of 24 indicators within 11 dimensions. Only one of the indicators includes cultural elements.