(04 November 2013) – 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. Only 38% actively took part in a cultural activity, such as singing, dancing or photography, in the past year.
In terms of ‘passive’ participation, the number describing their cultural engagement as high or very high is down to 18%, compared with 21% in 2007. The decline in participation has affected all cultural activities except cinema, with 52% saying they went to the movies in the past year (+1%).
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).
In terms of frequency of participation in all types of cultural activities, from reading to visiting a museum, Northern countries score highest, led by Sweden (43% describe their rate of participation as high or very high), Denmark (36%) and the Netherlands (34%). At the other end of the scale is Greece, where only 5% report high or very high participation rates, Portugal and Cyprus, 6%, Romania and Hungary, 7%, and Italy, 8%. Moreover, 34% of the EU population say they never or hardly ever participate in cultural activities, a 4% rise since 2007. This figure has significantly increased in some countries, such as Hungary (54%, +26%), Romania (55%, +14%) and Greece (63%, +8%).