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New Report on Culture Released

New Report on Culture Released

A new report exploring New Zealanders' experiences of cultural activities and spending on cultural items was launched today by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. A Measure of Culture: Cultural experiences and cultural spending in New Zealand presents detailed information from the 2002 Cultural Experiences Survey and the 2000/01 Household Economic Survey. It is the latest in a series of joint reports by the two agencies as part of the Cultural Statistics Programme, which began in 1993.

The Cultural Experiences Survey asked people aged 15 and over whether they had recently experienced a variety of cultural activities, ranging from buying books and music to attending performing arts. It also asked about their experiences of culture through television, radio and the Internet, how interested they were in experiencing New Zealand content, and what sort of barriers might have prevented them from experiencing cultural activities.

The report shows that the most popular cultural activity in the four weeks before the survey was buying books, which an estimated 44 percent of the adult population did. This was followed by visits to public libraries (39 percent), purchasing music (34 percent), hiring videos or DVDs (31 percent) and going to the movies (29 percent). Less frequent activities were surveyed over a 12-month period, including visiting art galleries or museums (done by 48 percent of adults), attending live performances of popular music (37 percent), buying handmade craft (31 percent) and attending the theatre and visiting historic places (both 27 percent).

A Measure of Culture provides extensive analysis of the demographic, social and economic characteristics of people taking part in each type of cultural experience. In general terms, the analysis shows that most cultural activities tend to be more common among those with educational qualifications, those in the labour force, those earning middle to high incomes, and those living in larger urban areas.

For most activities, education was the most important factor in whether people took part – people with either tertiary or secondary qualifications were generally more likely to do so than those without formal qualifications. Sex was also an important factor, with women being more likely than men to have experienced a number of cultural activities.

The main barriers which people said prevented them from taking part in cultural activities were lack of time and the cost involved. Cost was the major barrier for activities such as live dance, opera or musical theatre, live popular music performances, and the purchase of music and handmade craft. Other barriers included lack of information about events, or the fact that activities were not available locally.

The analysis also shows a high level of interest in New Zealand content. For all activities, more than half of all adults were either very interested or somewhat 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, attending New Zealand movies and purchasing New Zealand music.

Information from the Cultural Experiences Survey is supplemented by information on cultural spending from the Household Economic Survey. This shows that households spent $2.17 billion on cultural items in the year to June 2001. This equated to $30 a week per household and accounted for 4 percent of net household expenditure. New Zealand households spent $525 million on books, magazines and newspapers in the 12-month period, as well as $143 million on cinema admissions and videos and DVDs, $109 million on arts and craft objects and $76 million on admissions to theatre, concerts, ballet and plays. Spending on cultural items generally tended to increase with age, with income and with education.

A Measure of Culture paints a detailed statistical picture of cultural consumption in New Zealand. As such it should provide valuable information for policy-makers, funding providers, producers and creators in the cultural sector. It also provides a foundation for further research and analysis on some of the issues and observations contained in the report.

Brian Pink Government Statistician END

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