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Diversity and Drivers of Arts Attendance

March 18, 202018 March 2020

Arts participation

Canada’s Performing Arts Alliance


Nanos Research

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This report presents findings from a deeper dive into the Culture Track Canada dataset, an online survey of 6,444 Canadian arts and culture participants, related to attendance and drivers of attendance “according to ethnicity, language and immigration status”. The report examines whether there are statistically significant differences in overall attendance and attendance drivers in seven arts activities, including classical and popular music, musical theatre, theatre, opera, ballet, as well as art or design museums.

The bilingual Culture Track Canada survey was fielded in late 2017 and early 2018, reaching over 1,000 people each in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia as well as at least 400 people in every other province. Provincial samples were weighted to reflect provincial populations. The survey targeted people who had participated in at least one cultural activity during the previous year, not all Canadians. As is the case with the broader Culture Track Canada report, other methodological details, such as whether the sample was randomized and what its typical margin of error might be, are not provided in the report.

Regarding overall attendance, the report indicates that attendance at all seven arts activities “tends to be higher among immigrants and first generation Canadians”. In the case of classical music, the data show that attendance is highest among immigrants to Canada (18% of whom attended at least monthly during the previous year), compared with people born in Canada and whose parents and grandparents were also born in Canada (10%). Attendance rates are particularly high for respondents identifying as Black (28% of whom attended at least monthly during the previous year), South Asian (28%), Middle Eastern (22%), Asian (19%), and Indigenous (17%), compared with respondents identifying as white/Caucasian (11%).

To explore attendance motivations, respondents were asked how much they agree with 16 drivers that may have influenced their desire to attend. Across all demographic groups and arts activities, the most important drivers include:

  • “Feeling welcome”
  • “Feeling like it gives life a deeper meaning”
  • “Having grown up participating in it”
  • “Being able to go by myself”
  • “Connecting to my community”

The report makes the observation that “the less accessible the art form, the more important the drivers are for explaining attendance”. More specifically, attendance drivers are more important “for activities such as opera, ballet, classical music, and non-musical plays” than for popular music and art or design museums.

Again taking classical music as an example, the report notes that the strongest attendance drivers “are having grown up participating in it, relaxing experience, feeling welcome, being able to go by themselves, and feeling like it gives life a deeper meaning”. The analysis finds that the “deeper meaning” of classical music attendance is particularly important among immigrant respondents, Allophones (i.e., respondents who speak languages other than English or French), and Francophones.

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