Live Arts are Important to Ontarians

November 16, 2011 - Virtually all Ontarians take part in arts activities of some sort: 99% of Ontarians engage at least once a year in any of the ten music activities included in the Ontario Arts Engagement Study.

This study, commissioned to WolfBrown by the Ontario Arts Council, also revealed that:

"While media-based participation is widespread in comparison to other arts activities included in the survey, Ontarians attach a proportionately higher level of importance or “salience” to attending live events, such as visiting museums and attending plays or musicals with professional actors." (p. 4)

Here's an outlook by discipline:

  • 60% of Ontarians attended a concert by professional musicians at least once in the past year.
    • Of those who did, 74% described this activity as being “very important” to them.
  • 55% of Ontarians attended a play or musical with professional actors at least once in the past year.
    • Of those who did, 74% described this activity as being “very important” to them.
  • 25% of Ontarians attended a dance performance by professional dancers at least once in the past year.
    • Of those who did, 67% described this activity as being “very important” to them.

 

Live performing arts activities are in fact the six most important activities relative to frequency:

"The following activities had the highest salience to frequency ratio, indicating that they are most important to Ontario residents relative to frequency:

  1. Attend concerts by students or community musicians
  2. Attend concerts by professional musicians
  3. Attend performances by professional dancers or companies
  4. Attend dance performances by student or community dancers
  5. Attend plays or musicals with professional actors
  6. Attend plays or musicals with student or community actors" (p. 39)

These findings suggest that although frequency of attendance has traditionally been the benchmark indicator for engagement and subsequent success of arts programming in the general population, examining engagement from the viewpoint of importance can shed light on another dimension of “success” – the high public value of the arts.

 

A latent demand for live arts?

One might also interpret this “frequency/salience gap” as indicating some level of unfulfilled demand for live performing arts programs. Indeed, the study revealed that :

"95% of Ontarians said they would like to be doing more arts activities than they are doing now." (p. 7, 81)

Of all activities included in the survey, two live performing arts activities were mentioned among the top activities that respondents would like to do more often:

  • Attend plays or musicals with professional actors - 12% (2nd highest)
  • Attend concerts by professional musicians - 11% (4th highest)

 

What else?

Beyond attendance and importance statistics, this study provides a wealth of insights that can inform program design and audience development activities. These aspects will be covered in another news article.

 

Source : Ontario Arts Engagement Study, study commissioned to WolfBrown by the Ontario Arts Council, 2011.

 

The/La CULTURE of/de la CONVERGENCE