presentation to Association of Cultural Executives
This two-part presentation examines research findings related to: 1) arts attendance and cultural participation in Canada; and 2) artists in Canada.
Knowing nothing else about someone, what one question (not about books) would you ask them in order to guess whether they had read a book in the past year? The report indicates that the best questions concern their arts attendance at either an art gallery or a performing arts event, rather than demographic questions related to gender, education or income. In fact, "art museum and performing arts attendance are significant factors in literature participation", even after statistical adjustments are made for education and other demographic factors.
Similarly, the presentation indicates that 12% of Canadian households spend more than $200 on books. A much higher percentage of those households with high spending on performing arts, museums, works of art or live sports are also high spenders on books.
The presentation examines crossover attendance data related to the performing arts and art galleries in Canada, showing that attendance at performing arts events and art galleries is correlated with attendance at cultural festivals, volunteering and active participation in sports. There is also strong crossover attendance within the performing arts - between dance, music, theatre, opera and choral music audiences. In fact, attendance at another performing arts event is a much better predictor of performing arts attendance than education, income, age, occupation and gender combined.
The presentation extrapolates some interesting points from the finding that "the divide between cultural participants and non-participants appears to be more significant than any other demographic factors":
- the good news in this scenario is that the arts can attract people from a wide range of demographic groups, not just an educational or earnings "elite";
- the bad news is that the impacts of rising education levels and an aging population will not be as positive for arts attendance as one might think;
- book marketing should be directed at arts attendees, possibly through bookmarks in theatre, opera, symphony programs;
- arts marketing should be directed at literature readers, other arts participants and possibly sports attendees; and
- all arts and cultural organizations are strongly interrelated through their audiences or readers.
The presentation also highlights some research findings regarding how to spread the positive arts attendance "bug" to more people through arts education and adding value to attendees' arts experiences.
The second part of the presentation highlights the number of artists in Canada, artists' earnings, some equity issues in the arts, artists' working conditions, and the strong growth in the number of artists over the past 30 years.