Arts Research Monitor articles, category = Digital technologies & the arts

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.

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.

This report highlights key statistics on communications in Canada, based on a number of different sources. In 2012, Canadian households spent an average of $185 per month on communications services, including wireline, wireless, TV, and internet communications. Wireless is the most common service (44% of all connections), followed by TV (19%), wireline phones (also 19%), and internet services (18%).

This report from Music Canada, a non-profit trade organization that promotes the interests of its members and their artist partners, provides strategies for supporting the growth of Canada’s commercial music industry, which the report calls “a highly creative and dynamic field that has undergone massive changes with the shift to digital technologies and platforms”.

A component of the Canada Dance Mapping Study – which seeks to provide a comprehensive profile of the breadth and dance activity across Canada – this literature review examines a number of research sources regarding the state of dance in Canada, including professional, non-professional, and social dance. The literature review is organized around six key themes: dance policy, economics, ecology, social aspects, digital technologies, and artistic expression.

In the consumer book market, a February 2012 survey (National Book Count) found that "e-book sales comprised 10% of all books sold in English Canada. Public libraries reported that 3% of their circulation comprised digital formats. This finding puts English Canada near the very top of international estimates on e-reading." Another survey (fall 2012) reported that e-book sales represent about 16% of all books sold in Canada, with paperbacks representing 57% of the market and hardcovers 24%.

This study attempts to address three key research questions: 1) "How is digital media currently used in theatres both in Ontario and beyond and what is the potential for expanding its use?"; 2) "How can the content developed for the stage be adapted and repurposed for use on digital media platforms?"; and 3) "How can theatres use digital media to reach a wider and more demographically diverse audience?"

Prepared by David Poole

This discussion paper, intended for use by arts funding bodies, provides a useful overview of "current knowledge on the theme of digital transition and the impact of new technology on the arts". The paper indicates that "the electronic, networked and interactive nature of the digital world has a significant impact on the arts".