Arts Organizations Attract Many Diverse Canadians

By Greg Baeker

Recent research conducted by Hill Strategies Research offers interesting insights into participation by a range of different categories of arts participants in specific arts activities. There is sometimes a perception that arts organizations and activities are challenged to respond to diversity, in particular Canada’s substantial ethno-racial and racial diversity. However, the study confirms that overall, 71% of Canadians attended at least one of the five key arts activities in 2010. I’ll summarize some of the key findings here. For more details, take a look at the full report The report studied the following groups:

  • Visible minority Canadians
  • First-generation immigrants
  • Aboriginal people
  • Canadians with disabilities
  • Youth (15 to 24 years of age)
  • Seniors (65 and older)
  • Members of official language minority communities

The report analyzed attendance at the following arts activities categories:

  • Attendance at art galleries
  • Attendance at theatre performances
  • Attendance at popular music performances
  • Attendance at classical music performances
  • Attendance at cultural festivals
  • Attendance at one or more of the above arts activities

A key – and to some surprising – finding of the study is that most Canadians are attracted to at least one type of the activity in this range.

The analysis found relatively few statistically significant differences between diverse groups and other Canadians when it comes to this broad indicator of arts attendance. Four of the eight diverse groups looked at in the report have similar attendance rates to other Canadians:

  • First-generation immigrants
  • Aboriginal people
  • Anglophones in Quebec (official language minority community)
  • Francophones outside Quebec (official language minority community)

Youth 15 to 24 years of age have significantly higher arts attendance rates than Canadians 25 and older. This high overall attendance rate is due to the higher attendance at three of the five key arts activities: theatres, popular music performances, and cultural festivals. However, three demographic groups have a lower arts attendance rate that is statistically significant compared with other Canadians: Canadians with a disability, seniors, and visible minority Canadians (although the difference in this case is relatively small).

More detailed analysis breaks down attendance at each of type of arts activity participation by the different categories of diversity. This analysis provides valuable insights for different arts organizations and activities in terms of targeted marketing efforts.

This post draws significantly from a research bulletin produced on a regular basis by Hill Research Strategies. The analysis is based on data from the 2010 General Social Survey, Diversity and Arts Attendance by Canadians in 2010. Copies of the full report can be found on the websites of Hill Strategies Research, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.