Arts Council England released two interesting studies last week: on the value of the arts; the other one on attendance at outdoor events.
The value of arts and culture to people and society is a literature review focussing on the impact arts and culture has on the economy, health, wellbeing, society and education. The review presents research that helps demonstrate the importance of arts and culture on society. Among many things, the review found strong evidence that “participation in the arts can contribute to community cohesion, reduce social exclusion and isolation, and/or make communities feel safer and stronger.” These themes also emerged from The Value of Presenting study and framed the latest federal reinvestments in the arts in Budget 2014.
The Audience Agency released a first report on the Audience Finder: Outdoor Arts. Using field data collected by outdoor arts presenters, the report is assessing how far outdoor arts may reach audiences other arts do not. The data indicates that the audiences at outdoor arts are demographically diverse, and more representative of the larger population than indoor arts. The authors acknowledge that the methodology wasn’t as robust as they had wished, which invites to caution in the interpretation of the findings. Nonetheless, they converge with findings from Hill Strategies’ Diversity and Arts Attendance by Canadians in 2010, which revealed that visible minority Canadians are more likely than other Canadians to attend a cultural festival. The British report also offers interesting observations on the ‘localness’ of festivals, on cultural tourism and on the implications for audience development. Considering that 50% of Canadians attended an outdoor performance by professional artists in 2011, Audience Finder: Outdoor Arts is well worth reading.