For Albertans the arts provide a sense of belonging and connection with others

September 27, 2019

Just one of the motivating findings from a new study of culture consumers across Alberta released today


CALGARY, Alberta – (Sept 27, 2019) –  On the eve of the annual celebration of Alberta Culture Days, the findings of the Alberta Culture Study conducted by Nanos Research, a first of its kind study of over 1,000 culture-goers across Alberta, was released by Business/Arts, offering an in-depth look at how Albertans define and interact with the arts. For arts organizations, businesses and government, it provides an invaluable guide into audience behaviours and offers critical insights on Alberta’s cultural landscape. 

The study was led by Business/Arts in collaboration with the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, Calgary Arts Development, the City of Calgary and its partner Calgary Arts Development, and Theatre Calgary.  The study is modelled on Business / Arts Culture Track: Canada, a landmark market-research study tracking trends of the culture-goer in Canada commissioned by Business / Arts in 2018 from La Placa Cohen and Nanos Research. 

“We commissioned Culture Track: Canada in response to a general need expressed by arts leaders in Canada to have access to market research data that would help them better understand what motivates Canadians to engage in the arts, how they want to engage in the arts, and what the current barriers are to engagement, ” said Nichole Anderson Bergeron, president & CEO, Business/ Arts, an organization that uses the power of partnership between business, the arts and government to help strengthen the arts across the country and nurture a creative Canada for all to enjoy. 

“While the Canadian data was useful, we invested, along with the City of Calgary and Theatre Calgary, to learn more about Albertans motivations for participating in arts and cultural activities,” said Janice Price, president & CEO of Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity. “Seeing their interest in building community helps us to understand why Albertans’ average donations to the arts are the highest in Canada.  They see cultural organizations as having a positive impact on their communities.”

Key survey findings from the Alberta Culture Study: 

  • In Alberta, the most popular cultural attractions tend to be more grassroots and community focused: 
    • 74% of Albertans report attending community festivals 
    • 72% report visiting historical attractions 
    • 61% report attending performing arts festivals
  • In line with this finding, 89% of Albertans place a high value on the impact a cultural organization has on the local community, and this is especially true for Calgarians – at 97%. 
  • In fact, “belonging” and “connecting” are given as top unprompted impacts a cultural organization can have. For Albertans, bringing people of the same culture together as a community or bringing people of different cultures together to share knowledge and a sense of community are some of the greatest impacts a cultural organization can have on the world.
  • Community is also an important factor for Albertans when it comes to donating to cultural organizations; valuing the impact a cultural organization has on the community and the world, and wanting to give back to their community are key motivators for Albertans.
  • Out of those who donate to charitable organizations, over one in ten Albertans donate to arts and cultural organizations. 
  • For individual attendees, over 50% cite “experiencing new things”, “broadening their perspective or world view” and “learning something new” as among the top motivators for attending cultural activities, as well as “having fun”. 
  • In terms of technology, Albertans are divided on digital versus analog for their cultural experiences. Of those who engage digitally, the top reasons why digital appeals in cultural activities are:  
    • Helps me understand the content on a deeper level
    • Makes the activity feel new and innovative
    • Allows me to share my experience with friends and family
    • Gives me the tools to access more detailed information

The Alberta Culture Study also looked into barriers to participating in cultural experiences.  While time, location and cost each play a role, 42% of respondents cited “an activity not being for someone like me” as the top prompted barrier to cultural participation, which is an interesting finding when juxtaposed with the sense of community so valued by Albertans. 

“This study reinforces the deep appreciation Calgarians have for arts and culture that has been shown in our own Calgarian Engagement research,” says Patti Pon, president & CEO of Calgary Arts Development. “The sense of connection and belonging that is generated by participation in festivals, arts, and other cultural events is more important than ever in today’s polarized world.”

The full Albert Culture Study, including the raw data, is available free of charge online at www.businessandarts.org/culturetrack

Survey methodology

The Alberta Culture Study was fielded by Nanos Research in 2018. There were a total of 1,004 respondents across Alberta in an online questionnaire administered in both French and English. All respondents were 18 years or older, and were screened into the survey based on two criteria: their participation in at least one cultural activity in the past twelve months and their definition of that activity as a “cultural” activity.  

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