Culture Track Canada
IssueArts participation / Performing arts
Business / Arts
LaPlaca Cohen and Nanos Research
Culture Track Canada summarizes survey findings related to Canadian cultural consumers’ engagement and their “attitudes, motivators, and barriers to participation”. The report refers to respondents as cultural consumers because the survey targeted those who participated in at least one cultural activity during the previous year. Percentages in this summary are therefore of all cultural consumers, not all Canadians. The questionnaire was modified from American Culture Track surveys that have been fielded seven times since 2001 (most recently in 2017).
The online survey had a large sample size (6,444 Canadians 18 or over, reached in December 2017 and January 2018), and significant provincial samples were also conducted. However, no other methodological details (e.g., randomized or not, typical margin of error) are provided in the report. Provincial statistics, along with detailed survey findings, are provided in spreadsheets available for download.
A key finding of the survey is that Canadians “are true cultural omnivores”, with at least one-half of cultural consumers participating in activities such as community festivals (73%), food and drink experiences (68%), historic attractions or museums (66%), zoos or aquariums (66%), music festivals (56%), variety or comedy shows (55%), science, innovation, or technology museums (54%), natural history museums (52%), public art (51%), and plays (50%). Eight other activities reached less than one-half of cultural consumers: ethno-specific festivals (46%), classical music (40%), architectural tours or exhibits (36%), jazz music (35%), art museums (33%), contemporary dance (30%), opera (22%), and ballet (21%). While the survey includes activities that are not usually found in cultural surveys (such as food and drink experiences), respondents had to indicate that they considered those activities “cultural”.
Among a range of motivations for cultural participation, five were selected by at least two-thirds of cultural consumers: having fun (79%), interest in the content (76%), experiencing new things (71%), relaxing or feeling less stressed (also 71%), and learning something new (67%).
When asked what characteristics would be most important if respondents “could design [their] ideal cultural activity”, three aspects were chosen most commonly: lively (38%), social (also 38%), and interactive (30%). Unlike previous American Culture Track research, the Canadian report did not stress that audiences may “have different needs and wants at different times – or even simultaneously”.
Regarding barriers to participating in culture more often, four barriers were most commonly selected: “It’s not for someone like me” (41%), “The cost of a ticket/admittance is too high” (32%), “Location is too far for me” (31%), and “I didn’t think of it” (29%). The report indicates that “Indigenous peoples and people of colour are 65% more likely to stay away because activities don’t reflect people of a range of backgrounds”.
According to the survey results, the desire for digital experiences in cultural activities is highest in museums and galleries (the highest being science, innovation, technology, or natural history museums and art or design museums or galleries). The desire for digital integration is much lower in many areas of the performing arts, including dance (whether cultural/contemporary or ballet), opera, community festivals/street fairs, musicals, plays, and classical music.
While 47% of cultural consumers donate to charity, only 5% give to cultural charities. Survey results indicate that the belief that “my taxes already help” is the top reason for not donating to culture (selected by 30% of respondents), followed closely by “I haven't been asked” (28%). Among those who do donate to culture, the top motivators are a belief in the organization’s mission (77%) and a desire to impact the community (68%). The report recommends that arts and culture organizations “illustrate their indelible impact on society and emphasize the critical need of giving”.