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Arts and Heritage in Canada: Access and Availability Survey 2012

February 13, 201313 February 2013

Cultural participation / Social benefits of culture

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Based on a survey of 1,001 Canadians 18 or older in June and July of 2012, this report examines Canadians’ attendance and personal involvement in the arts, culture, and heritage, as well as their perceptions regarding cultural activities and government support of culture.

Regarding arts attendance, 83% of respondents indicated that they attended at least one type of live performance or arts event in the past year. The most popular (and most frequently attended) arts activities are “live art performances (63%), craft shows or fairs (55%), and arts or cultural festivals (52%)”. Three-quarters of respondents visited a heritage institution in the past year, with the most popular being historic buildings or sites (55%), museums or science centres (51%), and zoos, aquariums or botanical gardens (47%).

This survey contains some arts attendance statistics that not available from any other source, including the estimates that:

  • 55% of respondents attended a “crafts show or fair, including where these crafts are also offered for sale”.
  • 28% attended an arts activity “that makes use of film, video, audio or digital technologies, but not including regular movies in cinemas”.
  • 21% attended an event with “an opportunity to interact with artists, such as a question and answer session, a workshop, or meeting with an artist in residence”.
  • 17% attended a literary or poetry reading.

When asked about their experiences, survey respondents “offered mixed assessments of the number and quality of events and facilities in their community. Overall, perceptions of quality exceeded those related to the number of events and facilities.”

The survey findings demonstrate a consensus among Canadians concerning the importance of the arts, culture, and heritage, including large majorities either “strongly” or “somewhat” in agreement with the following statements:

  • “The arts are an important way of helping people think and work creatively” (93%).
  • "Arts experiences are a valuable way of bringing together people from different languages and cultural traditions" (93%).
  •  “Arts and cultural activities in a community make it a better place to live” (91%).
  • “Exposure to arts and culture is important to individual wellbeing” (90%).
  • "Canadian actors, musicians, writers and other artists are among best in the world and can hold their own on the world stage" (90%).
  • “The arts and culture help us express and define what it means to be Canadian” (87%).
  • “Arts and cultural activities are important to a community's economic wellbeing” (86%).
  •  “It's important to support the arts by volunteering or donating funds or goods” (81%).
  •  “The arts and heritage experiences help me feel part of my local community” (77%).

In addition, a strong majority of respondents agreed that specific arts, culture, and heritage facilities contribute "a lot" or "somewhat" to the quality of life of people living in their community:

  • Libraries (94%).
  • Spaces for live performances (87%).
  • Museums (80%).
  • Heritage centres, "such as an historic village, fort or house" (80%).
  • Facilities "combining several arts and cultural activities in one" (80%).
  • Public art galleries (78%).
  • "Spaces for artists to create and do their work" (73%).

Regarding respondents’ involvement in the arts, 57% indicated that they were personally involved in at least one artistic activity in the 12 months preceding the survey, including:

  • “Making a donation of money, goods, or services to an arts or cultural organization” (26%).
  • “Acting, dancing, singing, playing a musical instrument, or writing or composing or remixing music” (22%).
  • “Making photographs, movies, or videos as an artistic activity” (20%).
  • “Using the Internet or a smart phone to create something creative or artistic” (20%).
  • “Holding a membership in or subscription to an arts or cultural organization” (15%).
  • “Volunteering with an arts or cultural organization” (13%).
  • Creative writing (10%).
  • “Visual art or fine craft, such as pottery, ceramics, leatherwork, and weaving” (10%).

Regarding the governmental role in culture, a large majority of Canadians agree that governments should:

  • Help “protect and preserve Canada's heritage” (95%).
  • Promote “awareness of Canadian arts and cultural events and activities” (91%).
  • Provide “support for arts and culture in Canada” (90%).
  • Partner “with others to ensure that there are enough arts and cultural facilities to serve the public” (89%).
  • Provide “incentives to promote private sector support for arts and culture” (85%).

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