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Factors in Canadians’ Cultural Activities (Performing arts findings)

April 23, 200823 April 2008

Arts attendance / Performing arts

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This report examines demographic and other factors involved in performing arts attendance (as well as three other cultural activities), based on data from Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey of 2005, an in-depth telephone survey of about 10,000 Canadians 15 years of age or older.

In 2005, 41% of the population 15 or older (10.8 million Canadians) attended a concert or performance by professional artists of music, dance, theatre or opera (excluding cultural festivals).

Demographic factors that appear to have a substantial impact on performing arts attendance are education, income, residing in an urban area, and activity limitations.

  • 57% of individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree attended a performance in 2005. This is 2.4 times the attendance rate for individuals with less than a high school diploma (24%).
  • Performing arts attendance increases with income. Fifty-nine percent of individuals in households with incomes of $100,000 or more attended a performance in 2005, a figure that is double the attendance rate for individuals in households with incomes of less than $20,000 (29%). The ratio of 2.0 is slightly higher than the equivalent ratio among movie-goers (1.7) but is lower than the education ratio for performing arts attendees (2.4). This indicates that income is a somewhat less important factor than education in performing arts attendance.
  • Performing arts attendance is higher for those Canadians residing in larger urban centres (43%) than rural areas or small towns (33%).
  • Canadians with activity limitations (due to a physical condition, a mental condition or health problems) have a lower performing arts attendance rate (33%) than respondents with no limitations (43%).

Demographic factors that have either a limited or no impact on performing arts attendance include sex, age, presence of children, country of birth and language.

The report finds that cultural experiences and cultural exposure are, in general, more important factors in book reading than demographic factors. In fact, eight of the top 10 predictors of performing arts attendance are cultural activities, not demographic factors. The performing arts attendance rate is very high for a number of other cultural attendees:

  • 68% for attendees at another type of performance (such as dance, opera or circus);
  • 68% for those who went to a cultural festival;
  • 68% for Canadians who visited an art gallery;
  • 65% for those who visited a museum;
  • 65% for attendees at a performances of cultural/heritage music, theatre or dance (e.g. Aboriginal Peoples, Chinese, Ukrainian); and
  • 59% for those who visited an historic site.

All of these cultural crossovers rank more highly than the best demographic factors (high income and education).

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