Social Effects of Culture: Exploratory Statistical Evidence

Can visiting an art gallery or reading a book change your life?

Exploratory in nature, this report examines the relationship between four cultural activities (reading books, attending live performances, visiting art galleries and attending movie theatres) and social phenomena such as volunteering, donating, neighbourhood connections, sense of belonging and quality of life.

While the report does not claim to be definitive, some statistics in the report do show a relationship between some cultural activities and positive social engagement:

  • Art gallery visitors have a stronger sense of social engagement than non-visitors for many social indicators, including volunteering, donating, doing favours for neighbours, sense of belonging to Canada and not feeling trapped in a daily routine.
  • Book readers also have a stronger sense of social engagement than non-readers for many social indicators, including volunteering, donating, doing favours for neighbours, sense of belonging to Canada and not being a workaholic.
  • Given the mix of positive and neutral findings regarding performing arts attendees, there is mild evidence of a link between performing arts attendance and positive social engagement. Performing arts attendees do have positive indicators of social engagement for volunteering, donating, doing favours for neighbours, and not feeling trapped in a daily routine.
  • Given the mix of positive, neutral and negative findings regarding movie goers, there is very little evidence of a link between movie theatre attendance and positive social engagement.
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