Participation in the arts

The main facts and figures show that:

  • in 2016/17, 77% of people aged 16 and over had taken part in the arts at least once in the past year – this figure has generally been stable since 2005/06
  • a higher percentage of White people took part in the arts than people from all other ethnic groups combined

  • new data has been published for the year 2017/18 – this data isn’t currently reflected in the charts, tables and commentary on this page, but you can get a CSV file with the latest figures if you download the data

Things you need to know

These figures are estimates based on responses to the Taking Part Survey.

The Taking Part Survey is a ‘sample survey’. It collects information from a random sample of the population to make generalisations (reach ‘findings’) about the total population.

Unless stated otherwise, the commentary for this data includes only reliable, or ‘statistically significant’, findings. Findings are statistically significant when we can be confident that they can be repeated, and are reflective of the total population rather than just the survey sample.

Specifically, the statistical tests used mean we can be confident that if we carried out the same survey on different random samples of the population, 19 times out of 20 we would get similar findings.

As with all surveys, the estimates from the Taking Part survey are subject to a degree of uncertainty as they are based on a sample of the population. The degree of uncertainty is greater when the number of respondents is small, so it will be highest for ethnic minority groups.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of people aged 16 and over in England who had taken part in the arts in the year before taking the survey.

Respondents were asked whether they had:

  • taken part in one of a list of arts activities (for example, performing music or theatre live, or doing art, photography or film as an artistic activity)
  • attended one of a given list of arts events (for example, exhibitions, live performances and theatre)

Percentages are calculated using the total number of survey respondents. Results are adjusted to make them representative of the population as a whole.

The ethnic categories used in this data

For this data, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories.

For the analysis over time since 2005/06, the data has been broken down into the following 2 broad categories:

  • White – White ethnic groups (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
  • Other – all other ethnic minorities

For the analysis of the specific years 2005/06, 2010/11 and 2015/16, the data has been broken down into the following 4 broad ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • White (including White ethnic minorities)
  • Other ethnic groups (including people with Mixed ethnicity)

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Participation in the arts in the past year, by ethnicity over time

Percentage of people aged 16 years and over who took part in the arts in the past year, by ethnicity over time

All White Other than White
Time % Number of respondents % Number of respondents % Number of respondents
2005/06 76 28,117 77 24,038 70 4,047
2006/07 76 24,174 77 21,317 68 2,829
2007/08 77 25,720 77 22,794 71 2,880
2008/09 76 14,452 77 12,979 67 1,451
2009/10 76 6,097 77 5,455 66 630
2010/11 76 14,102 77 12,617 67 1,457
2011/12 78 9,188 79 8,301 70 871
2012/13 78 9,838 79 9,054 70 775
2013/14 78 10,355 78 9,545 70 798
2014/15 77 9,817 78 9,050 68 757
2015/16 76 10,171 78 9,312 66 850
2016/17 77 9,352 79 8,473 70 862

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, the percentage of people aged 16 years and over taking part in the arts stayed fairly stable between 2005/06 and 2016/17, ranging between 76% and 78%
  • throughout the period studied, White people were more likely to take part in the arts than people from all other ethnic groups combined

Participation in the arts in the past year, by ethnicity over time (3 specific years)

Percentage of people aged 16 years and over who took part in the arts in the past year, by ethnicity over time (3 specific years)

All Asian Black White Other
Time % Number of respondents % Number of respondents % Number of respondents % Number of respondents % Number of respondents
2005/06 76 28,117 67 2,080 74 1,322 77 24,038 73 645
2010/11 76 14,102 64 796 74 423 77 12,617 67 238
2015/16 76 10,171 59 434 70 242 78 9,312 78 174

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • for all 3 years, Asian people were significantly less likely to take part in the arts than White people (including White ethnic minorities) and Black people

  • Asian people took part in the arts significantly less in 2015/16 (59%) than in 2005/06 (67%)

Methodology

Methodology

The Taking Part Survey measures cultural activity by people aged 16 years and over, as well as children aged 5 to 10 years and 11 to 15 years. Respondents must be living in private households in England, but there is no geographical restriction on where the activity or event occurred.

The sample for the Taking Part survey is chosen by first randomly selecting households from the Postcode Address File.

An interviewer visits these addresses and, if contact is made, records details of all individuals living at each address. One adult, and where applicable one child aged 5 to 10 and one aged 11 to 15, is then selected to participate in the survey.

The figures presented here only apply to people 16 and over.

Weighting:

Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know has an even 50/50 split. Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.

Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.

The data in the Taking Part sample is weighted to make sure it is representative of the population in England. The data is weighted to:

  • compensate for unequal probabilities of selection
  • adjust for non-responses

Weighting is based on mid-year population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Confidence intervals:

You can see confidence intervals for each ethnic group if you download the data.

In 2016/17, 77% of people aged 16 years and over responding to the Taking Part Survey question had taken part in the arts. This is a reliable estimate of the percentage of people in England who took part in the arts in that period. But because the Taking Part Survey is based on a random sample, it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.

It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 76% and 79% of all people aged 16 years and over in England took part in the arts. In statistical terms, this is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if 100 random samples were taken, then 95 times out of 100 the estimate would fall between the upper and lower confidence interval. But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.

The smaller the survey sample, the more uncertain the estimate and the wider the confidence interval. For example, the number of Black people responding to the survey in 2015/16 (242 respondents) was much smaller than the overall population that responded to the survey (10,171 respondents), so we can be less certain about the estimate for the smaller group (Black people, 70%). This greater uncertainty is expressed by a wider confidence interval, of between 62% and 78% for Black people in 2015/16.

All the differences noted in the text are statistically significant. The statistical significance of differences are approximate because they are determined where the 95% confidence intervals for 2 groups or time periods don't overlap.

Rounding

Percentages are given to the nearest whole number.

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

Taking Part technical reports.

Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Note on corrections or updates

The data was republished on 6 December 2017 following a small revision. The figures shown on this page are based on the revised data.

Publication frequency

Twice a year

Purpose of data source

The Taking Part Survey measures people's involvement in cultural activities in England.

The data is widely used by policy officials, practitioners, academics and charities.

Secondary source

Publisher

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Publication frequency

Ad-hoc

Download the data

Adults taking part in the arts v2 - Spreadsheet (csv) 9 KB

This file contains data for the years 2005/06 to 2017/18. This is the latest data available, but does not reflect the figures shown in the charts, tables and commentary on this page. The file contains: Measure, Time, Ethnicity, Geography, Value, Upper bound, Lower bound, Sample size

Adults taking part in the arts - Spreadsheet (csv) 8 KB

This file contains data for the years 2005/06 to 2016/17. This is the data used in the charts, tables and commentary shown on this page. This file contains: Measure, Time, Ethnicity, Geography, Value, Upper bound, Lower bound, Sample size