Almost three-quarters of adults in Scotland attended a cultural event or place in the last year, but a quarter feel “culture and the arts are not really for people like me”.

Photo of hanging heads exhibit at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

Cameron King (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Detailed analysis of new questions asked in the 2013 Scottish Household Survey has shone light on arts attendance and participation in Scotland. Headline figures in a new report, ‘People, Culture & Heritage in Scotland’, reveal that, excluding cinema, 72% of adults in Scotland attended a cultural event or place of culture in the previous 12 months. Although the figures are not directly comparable, this is similar to Wales, where the figure just published is 73.5%.

The most common type of cultural attendance in Scotland was theatre (32%), followed by museums and live music events (both 31%). The most cited reason for not attending cultural events or places was ‘not really interested’, with just over a third of non-attenders giving this as a reason, though ‘health isn’t good enough’ was cited by 28%. Cost was a barrier for 16% of non-attenders, while 15% indicated it’s difficult to find the time. Over half agreed that culture and the arts make a positive difference to their local area – more than three times as many as disagreed with this – though a quarter felt that ‘Culture and the arts are not really for people like me’.

The figures for cultural engagement in Scotland, whilst not directly comparable with those generated by England’s ‘Taking Part’ survey, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Wales Omnibus survey, show familiar trends. Both arts attendance and participation correlate closely with social grade; there is lower engagement among those who have a disability or long-term illness; attendance is highest among those with degrees or professional qualifications; and those living in the most deprived areas are the least likely to attend.

Liz Hill