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Diversity in Canada

May 24, 200724 May 2007

Diversity, immigration and the arts

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This 2006 survey conducted for the Department of Canadian Heritage examines the arts attendance, involvement in the arts, and attitudes towards the arts of six target population groups in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The six target groups are Chinese, South Asian, West Asian/Arab, Black, Hispanic and Italian. The survey was designed to achieve a representative sample of the general population 15 and older (i.e., not just the target groups) as well as a representative sample of each target group (also 15 and older). In addition to English and French, interviews were conducted in Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish and Italian.

The report finds that there is much diversity within the target groups regarding arts attendance. For Chinese, black and West Asian/Arab respondents, overall attendance rates at “a live performance or other arts event from your own cultural or ethnic tradition” are similar to the attendance rates for the general population (62%). The other three target groups have lower attendance rates than the general population.

Attendance at “a live performance or arts event from ‘mainstream’ culture or traditions” is higher for the general population (64%) than for any of the six target groups. However, there is a wide range of attendance rates: 59% for black respondents, 56% for Italian respondents, 56% for West Asian/Arab respondents, 55% for Chinese respondents, 37% for Hispanic respondents, and 33% for South Asian respondents.

With the exception of the Italian respondents, all target groups were “strongly oriented to performances featuring their own cultural traditions at the expense of mainstream or ‘other’ cultural events”. That is, attendance at performances or events from their “own cultural or ethnic tradition” is higher than attendance at “mainstream” performances or events for all target groups, with the exception of Italian respondents.

In terms of personal involvement in the arts, 52% of black respondents reported that they had personally participated in a cultural activity (visual arts, crafts, photography, music, other performing arts or creative writing). This is very similar to the overall rate of personal involvement in the arts among the general population (55%). For all other target groups, the rate of personal involvement in the arts is lower than the rate in the general population.

Agreement with specific statements about culture in general and government cultural responsibilities was stronger for all target groups (except, in many cases, Italian respondents) than for the general population. These statements include:

  • “It is important to you that a dynamic arts and culture identity from your own tradition is passed on to the next generation.”
  • “Arts experiences are a valuable way of bringing together people from different languages and cultural traditions.”
  • “Seeing artists and artistic achievements from different cultural traditions in Canada helps me understand Canada better.”
  • “You are more interested in art/live performances/literature from your own cultural background than from others.”
  • “Governments in Canada should do more to promote the sharing of cultures among ethnic groups in Canada.”
  • “Governments have a responsibility to provide special funding for arts activities involving culturally diverse communities.”
  • “Governments in Canada should do more to promote the retention of cultural heritages of ethnic groups in Canada.”

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