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Performing Arts Attendance in Canada (January 2003)

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January 13, 200313 January 2003

This report examines national and provincial trends in performing arts attendance in Canada. The report shows that over 9.1 million Canadians 15 years of age or older, or 37.6% of Canadians in this age range, attended a live, professional performing arts event in the survey year. Theatre is the most popular live performing arts activity, followed by popular forms of music, classical music and dance.

Performing arts attendance in Canada increases with income and education. The “higher” performing arts compare favourably with popular music in terms of accessibility to Canadians from a range of income and education groups. Contrary to popular belief, performing arts attendance decreases somewhat for older Canadians.

Reaching Canadians who speak languages other than English or French is a significant challenge facing Canada’s performing arts organizations. The report contains statistics to support this conclusion, as well as attendance rates by sex, urban/rural residence and marital status.

The report demonstrates how Canadians who attend performances have high attendance rates at other arts events and also volunteer in their communities.

The attendance rate at performing arts events decreased during the 1990s. However, due to significant population growth, about 100,000 more Canadians attended a performance in 1998 than in 1992. The report includes a full examination of the changes in attendance rates for each discipline and for various demographic groups during the 1990s.

An important feature of the report is the extensive provincial information provided, including attendance profiles, trends and comparisons between the provinces. Because provincial attendance rates vary significantly, the report concludes that there appear to be performing arts “have” and “have-not” provinces. Performing arts preferences also vary significantly between the provinces. This means that a variety of different provinces have the highest attendance rates at theatre, classical music, pop music and dance performances. BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec all lead the country in different categories.

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