88% of adults in England engaged with the arts last year, according to survey

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16th May 2022 18:18 - Museums, Libraries and Archives

88% of adults in England engaged with the arts last year:  The results of the government's Participation Survey October to December 2021 has revealed that 88% of the adults polled in England engaged with the arts in some way.

It also found that 83% engaged physically in the arts (either by attending an event or venue, or by actively participating in an activity ‘in person’), while 27% reported engaging in the arts digitally. 

The Participation Survey October to December 2021 was commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and published in April 2022.

The purpose of the research was to gain insight into the ways adults (over the age of 16 years) engage with arts, heritage, museums and galleries, and library sectors, both in physical (in-person) and digital ways. It polled 13,536 people online (83%) while 2,691 (17%) completed a paper version of the questionnaire

An estimated 46% of adults surveyed said that they had engaged with the arts 'three or more times' in the 12-month period before they completed the survey, while 19% had 'engaged once', and 21%, 'twice'. According to the findings, 14% said they had had 'no engagement' with the arts.

Most popular ways to engage with the arts

When asking respondents about their engagement with the arts, the most popular activity cited was reading, with 63% revealing they had engaged in this way. This was followed by 'playing video games' (including on a tablet or smartphone - 35%). In terms of the most popular arts activity attended in person, the research found that cinema screenings were the most popular (34%), followed by live music concerts (17%).

Barriers to engaging with the arts

Looking at barriers to engaging physically, the research revealed that 'a lack of interest' (29%) and 'due to Covid-19 restrictions or concerns' (28%) were the top responses given, with 26% citing 'no reason in particular'. Around 17% reported 'not having time' to engage with the arts physically, while 11% said it was 'too expensive' and 10% said that their health problem or disability was a barrier. 

Other barriers included 'not knowing what is available' (6%), 'difficult to get to' (6%), not having anyone to go with (4%), and the fear of 'feeling out of place' (3%).

When it comes to barriers to engaging digitally, the top answers given were 'no reason in particular' (45%) and 'I am not interested' (29%)

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