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Virtually all Canadians Participate in Culture

Virtually all Canadians Participate in Culture

Virtually all Canadians Participate in Culture - from Hill Strategies Research


In 2016, virtually all Canadians (15 or older) participated in some type of arts, culture, or heritage activity (100%, or 99.5% if rounded to one decimal place). This is one insight from Canadians’ Arts, Culture, and Heritage Participation in 2016, the 47th report in the Statistical Insights on the Arts series from Hill Strategies Research, based on Statistics Canada’s 2016 General Social Survey (Canadians at Work and Home).
Arts attendance levels were very high in 2016, with nearly nine in ten Canadians (86%) attending an art gallery, an arts performance, an artistic or cultural festival, or a movie theatre.
Another key finding from the analysis is that one-half of Canadians 15 or older made or performed art in 2016 (or 14.8 million Canadians). Questions related to respondents’ active participation in making or performing art were asked for the first time in the 2016 General Social Survey. It will be interesting to follow changes in this key indicator in future iterations of the General Social Survey.
The participation rates for many arts, culture, and heritage activities have increased over 25 years, based on those questions that were also asked in previous General Social Surveys.
Key indicators of arts, culture, and heritage participation
While 99.5% of Canadians participated in culture in 2016, this broad indicator includes, for example, someone who read a newspaper, watched a movie, or listened to music at any point in 2016. The participation rates for each of these activities are all above 90
%, when digital and analog formats as well as all locations are taken into account (newspapers: 94%; movies: 93%; and music: 91%).
  • Exactly one-half of Canadians (50%) made or performed art (crafts, music, visual arts, writing, dancing, etc.)
  • 86% attended an arts activity, such as a performing arts event or artistic or cultural festival (68%), an art gallery (39%), or a movie theatre (71%)
  • 70% visited a heritage site, such as an art gallery (39%), another type of museum (35%), a historic site (50%), or a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, planetarium, or observatory (46%)
  • 77% read a book in print or electronic format in 2016
Nearly nine in ten Canadians attended an arts activity
In 2016, 86% of Canadians 15 or older attended an arts activity (25.3 million Canadians). The arts attendance statistics include:
  • art galleries (39%)
  • arts performances or festivals (68%)
  • movie theatres (71%)
Even when movie theatre attendance is excluded, 73% of Canadians attended an arts performance or exhibition (including art galleries, performing arts, and artistic or cultural festivals).
One-half of Canadians make or perform art
One-half of Canadians 15 or older made or performed art in 2016 (or 14.8 million Canadians). The participation rates in eight activities, shows that the most common arts practices are:
  • crafts (18%, or 5.2 million Canadians 15 or older)
  • music (15%, or 4.3 million Canadians)
  • visual arts (13%, or 3.8 million Canadians)
  • writing (11%, or 3.2 million Canadians)
  • dancing (9%, or 2.7 million Canadians)
  • audio-visual and interactive media (4%, or 1.2 million Canadians)
  • theatre (1.4%, or 411,000 Canadians)
  • another creative arts activity (5%, or 1.5 million Canadians) 
Trends in participation
There were largely positive results regarding trends in arts, culture, and heritage participation over the past 25 years, as evidenced by strong increases in the art gallery and historic site attendance rates between 1992 and 2016. Movie theatres, museums, and other heritage activities have also seen increasing attendance rates.
On the other hand, listening to music on CDs, vinyl, or other conventional formats has decreased substantially in recent years.
Questions related to the performing arts have changed over time, precluding an analysis of long-term participation trends. Because the questions related to making and performing art were newly added in 2016, no historical data are available.
**This report presents “participation rates” rather than overall attendance estimates. Individuals are counted only once in each activity regardless of how many times they participated in the activity during the year.**
For more information
The full report contains many more details about each type of activity, including frequency of participation and historical comparisons of:
  • Making and performing art
  • Live performing arts and artistic or cultural festivals
  • Museums and galleries
  • Other heritage activities
  • Reading
  • Movies
  • Recorded music
The full report is available free of charge on the website of Hill Strategies Research and the websites of the project funders (the Canada Council for the Arts, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Ontario Arts Council).
Hill Strategies Research specializes in rigorous and reliable research on the arts and culture in Canada, combined with clear and effective communications.
The Statistical Insights on the Arts series, created by Hill Strategies Research in 2002, is co-funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Ontario Arts Council as part of their shared commitment to making arts research available in inform the work of Canada’s arts community and inform the general public about Canada’s arts sector.


Virtually all Canadians Participate in Culture , Hill Strategies Research , Study


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