European Statistics on Participation in the Arts and Their International Comparability

  • John O’Hagan


This paper is devoted to establishing why reliable internationally comparable statistics on cultural participation are needed. It addresses the major and various difficulties that arise in comparing national surveys, both over time and to each other. It considers the problems that persist even with cross-national surveys for comparative purposes. Section 5 will conclude the paper with some policy recommendations.


National survey comparison EU Participation Culture 



I wish to thank Concetta Castiglione and Victoria Ateca-Amestoy for assistance with translation of parts of the Italian and Spanish surveys alluded to in the paper. I also wish to record that the work for this paper greatly benefitted from participation in a project on Assessing Effective Tools to Enhance Cultural Participation (PUCK) funded by the Education and Culture DG of the European Commission under its Culture Programme. The current version of the paper benefitted greatly from the comments of two anonymous referees for the journal from which this article is reproduced.


  1. Allin, P. (2000). The development of comparable European cultural statistics. Cultural Trends, 10(37), 65–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arts Council of England. (2013). Great art and culture for everyone. London: Arts Council of England.Google Scholar
  3. Brook, O. (2011). International comparisons of public engagement in culture and sport. London: Department for Culture, Media and Sport.Google Scholar
  4. ESSnet-Culture. (2012). European statistical network on culture: Final report. Luxembourg: Eurostat.Google Scholar
  5. European Commission. (2001). Cultural statistics in the EU. Final report of the LEG (Working Paper 3.2001. No. 1). Luxembourg.Google Scholar
  6. European Commission. (2006). The economy of culture in Europe. Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  7. European Commission. (2013). Cultural access and participation (Special Eurobarometer 399). Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  8. Jowell, R. (1998). How comparative is comparative research? American Behavioral Scientist, 42(2), 168–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Keaney, E. (2008). Understanding arts audiences: Existing data and what it tells us. Cultural Trends, 17(2), 97–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. King, G., Murray, C. J. L., Salomon, J. A., & Tandon, A. (2004). Enhancing the validity and cross-cultural comparability of measurement in survey research. American Political Science Review, 98(01), 191–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lievesley, D. (2001). Making a difference: A role for the responsible international statistician. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series D (The Statistician), 50(4), 367–406.Google Scholar
  12. Madden, C. (2004). Making cross-country comparisons of cultural statistics: Problems and solutions (Working Paper No. 2). Australia Council for the Arts.Google Scholar
  13. Madden, C. (2005). Statistical indicators for the arts (D’Art Report 18). International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA).Google Scholar
  14. Ministry of Education and Culture. (2011). Effectiveness indicators to strengthen the knowledge base for cultural policy. Helsinki: Ministry of Education and Culture.Google Scholar
  15. Morrone, A. (2006). Guidelines for measuring cultural participation. Montreal: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.Google Scholar
  16. Schmeets, N., & Huynen, B. (2010). Social and cultural participation in EU-SILC and the problem of output harmonization. In Proceeding of Q2010 – European Conference on Quality in Official Statistics. Helsinki.Google Scholar
  17. Schmeets, N., Kloosterman, R., & Huynen, B. (2012). Measuring social and cultural participation in European surveys. In ESSnet-Culture (pp. 419–430).Google Scholar
  18. Schuster, M. (2007). Participation studies and cross-national comparison: Proliferation, prudence, and possibility in the arts and culture. Cultural Trends, 16(2), 99–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Skaliotis, M. (2003). Key figures on cultural participation in the European Union. Eurostat, Unit E3.Google Scholar
  20. UNESCO. (2012). Measuring cultural participation. 2009 UNESCO framework for cultural statistics handbook n° 2. Montreal: UNESCO Institute for Cultural Statistics.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trinity College DublinDublinIreland

Personalised recommendations