George Fairfax Fellow 1998

Kenneth Myer Lecture: The changing face of arts audiences

Arts audience research is commonly performed using short-term, time-independent assumptions on micro-data such as educational attainment, household income or occupational status. Strategic planning in arts institutions requires, however, that the time-dependence of societal characteristics used to explain arts participation be considered. The rate of changes of audience composition and audience numbers over time is more dependent on changing macro-economic and demographic factors rather than on traditional individual traits. Using East and West German data on arts attendees between 1980 and 1996 and, especially, looking at the dramatic dive of these numbers in East Germany in 1989-90, the impact of long-term macro-changes (unemployment, gross national product, value orientations, competition in pop culture) could be analysed in detail. This data suggest that longitudinal macro-research may be as valuable as non-longitudinal micro-research in decisions about arts planning.

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