Participation in Arts and Cultural Activities

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Indicator Rationale

Most types of arts involvement have a social dimension that is an important basis for building social capital and community identity. The arts, through their communicative power, enhance individual engagement with the world in ways that have both personal and public benefits. These effects are instrumental in that they can open people to life and create the fabric of shared values and meanings that improves the public sphere.  Collective artistic activity has the potential to provide a forum for voice, affect social change, or promote a community's unique cultural identity.

Participation builds social cohesion and connectedness, thereby reducing isolation.  Through building a collective identity, event and cultural facilities also build community strength.  Community and cultural events provide a range of socially inclusive activities that contribute to overall community well-being.  

Data Source

VicHealth Indicator Survey 2011

Community Indicators Victoria Survey 2007


People Who Participated in Arts and Related Activities in the Last Month: expressed as a percentage of the adult population.

Important: Note the difference in time periods and question wording between CIV Survey 2007 and VicHealth Indicators Survey 2011. The arts participation question in the CIV Survey 2007 refers to the "last month" whilst the VicHealth Indicators Survey 2011 refers to the "last 3 months".  These changes were made by VicHealth in the survey design.

A small number of survey respondents (representing less than 2.0% of the weighted survey estimates across Victoria) didn't know or refused to answer the survey question.  These respondents have been excluded from the data analysis. 

Survey Question

VicHealth Survey Question 2011

In the last 3 months, have you been involved in making or creating art including crafts either at home or in a public space; for example performing, creative writing, digital or media art? Yes; No.

CIV Survey Question 2007

Now some questions about your local community and some activities you might have participated in. In the last month have you done any of the following activities? Yes; No.

1. Painting or drawing

2. Other art or craft activities

3. Playing a musical instrument

4. Singing

5. Other types of performing, for example acting or dancing, or

6. Creative writing

Source of Question

The 2007 CIV Survey question was designed by CIV in consultation with various stakeholders, following the examination of a variety of related questions asked in other surveys.

VicHealth chose to modify this question in the VicHealth 2011 Survey. The activities included in the question were altered and time periods assessed were changed from last month (2007 survey) to last 3 months (2011 survey). In addition, the companion indicator of 'Opportunities to participate in arts and culture' was not included in the VicHealth 2011 Survey.


McCarthy et all, (2004) Gifts of the Muse, Reframing the Debate, About the Benefits of the Arts, RAND Foundation