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New Survey Shows Popularity of Culture

2002 Cultural Experiences Survey: June 2002

A new survey conducted by Statistics New Zealand on behalf of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage shows that 93 percent of people aged 15 and over had recently experienced at least one of the cultural activities asked about. The 2002 Cultural Experiences Survey shows that the most popular activities were purchasing books or music, using public libraries, and visiting art galleries or museums.

The survey, conducted in the first quarter of this year, asked people whether they had experienced various cultural activities over either a four-week or 12-month period. It also asked how often they had experienced these activities, how interested they were in New Zealand content in each activity, and whether any barriers had prevented them from experiencing these activities.

The most popular cultural activity over the four weeks prior to the survey was purchasing books. An estimated 1.2 million people (or 43 percent of the adult population) said they had purchased at least one book during this period. Book buying was most common among women, people aged 25 to 44 years, and those with tertiary qualifications.

The popularity of books is also evident in the high number of people using public libraries ? an estimated 1.1 million people (or 39 percent of the adult population) over a four-week period. Library use was also more common among women than men but, unlike many cultural activities, it was most popular among older people, and those who were not employed or were on lower incomes.

Other popular cultural activities over the four weeks prior to the survey included purchasing recorded music (937,000), hiring videos or DVDs (866,000), and going to the movies (801,000). Each of these activities was most popular among young people aged 15 to 24 years. These activities decline with increasing age.

Of all the cultural experiences asked about over the 12-month period prior to the survey, the most popular was visiting an art gallery or museum. An estimated 1.3 million people (or 48 percent of the adult population) had done this over the previous year. There were no marked age differences in people engaging in this activity, but it was more popular among women than men, and among people with tertiary qualifications.

Another popular activity people engaged in during the 12-month period was attending popular live music. This activity attracted over 1 million people. As with the purchase of music items, this was most popular among young people (aged 15 to 24 years) and became a less common activity with increasing age. Attending popular live music is one of several cultural activities that are most likely to be experienced by those in higher income brackets. Income was also a factor with two other major activities engaged in over a 12-month period, namely purchasing handmade craft (experienced by 869,000), and attending theatrical performances (752,000).

Income may be a factor in the reasons people gave for not taking part in cultural activities more often, with cost being a major barrier for activities such as attending various forms of live entertainment, or purchasing cultural items. Another major barrier was lack of time, while others included lack of information, or activities not being available locally.

Most people who participated in the various cultural activities were interested in New Zealand content. The highest levels of interest were in attending exhibitions with a New Zealand theme, attending performances of popular music written by New Zealanders, and attending New Zealand movies. For most activities, women were more interested than men in New Zealand content.

A more detailed report analysing results from the survey will be released at a later date.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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