Is Europe becoming a less cultural continent? The findings of a new Eurobarometer survey on cultural access and participation – the first on the topic since 2007 – suggest this may be the case. Although there are marked differences between Member States, in general fewer Europeans are engaging in cultural activities, as performers or spectators.
The survey shows that the most common form of cultural participation in the EU is watching or listening to a cultural programme on television or radio (72% did this at least once in the past 12 months, a 6% decrease since 2007), followed by reading a book (68%, down 3%). The least popular activity is going to see an opera, ballet or dance performance (18%, no change).
Concert-going was most popular in northern European countries. In Sweden 61% and Denmark 60% of citizens went to a concert at least once in the last year. Respondents in Portugal (19%), Poland (22%), Greece (23%) and Romania (25%) were least likely to have done so.
The youngest respondents were most likely to have been to a concert at least once in the last year (51%), while those aged 55 and over were least likely to have done so (24%). These respondents will have gone to a range of concerts including classical, folk, pop and rock. Respondents who had studied beyond the age of 19 and those still studying were the most likely to have been to a concert at least once in the last year, with 57% of those still studying and 49% of those who had studied beyond 19 having done so.
Respondents who described themselves as “high” on the social scale were more likely to have been to concerts, with 48% going at least once, than those positioning themselves at the bottom of the scale (only 24%). It is striking that self-positioning on the social scale has a stronger correlation with concert-going behaviour than difficulties paying bills. Respondents who had least difficulty paying bills were most likely to go to concerts, with 40% going to at least one concert in the last year, compared with 22% of those who have financial difficulties most of the time.
Across the EU Countries, respondents generally said that lack of interest or lack of time are the main obstacles to participating in a particular activity. Lack of interest is the main reason for not going to more concerts (29%), visiting a museum or gallery (35%), going to the theatre (36%), visiting a public library (43%) or attending a ballet, dance performance or opera (50%).
Cost is also an important factor and “too expensive” is mentioned as a reason for not going, or going less often, to the theatre (20%), the cinema (22%), or a concert (25%); however, expense is not the main obstacle mentioned by respondents for any one of these cultural activities.