Statistics on engagement in culture and arts released

Date published: 28 September 2017

The Department for Communities (DfC) today released reports on engagement in culture and arts by adults and young people.

Statistical graphic

Main findings


The proportion of the adult population engaging in culture and arts each year has remained relatively consistent at around 85% since 2009/10.

Over 90% of adults who engaged with the arts said that they derived a range of benefits from this engagement. 30% said that the engagement ‘improved their knowledge’; 40% stated that the engagement had a ‘positive impact on their wellbeing’; over a quarter noted benefits relating to social inclusion (‘making new friends’ or ‘helping them communicate with family or friends’); and overall 75% of adults who engaged with the arts expressed ‘enjoyment / having fun’ as a benefit.

Around one quarter of adults said that there is nothing in particular that prevents them from attending arts events, either at all or more than they already do. However, other respondents indicated that they did not attend at all or as often as they may like for a range of reasons including; 'difficult to find the time'; 'costs too much'; 'not really interested'; ‘family commitments’; and ‘events are not publicised enough’.

Young people:

Almost all young people had engaged in culture and arts in the year prior to the survey (97%).

The three most popular arts activities of young people in the previous year, were “Played a musical instrument for your own pleasure” (33%), “Painting, drawing, sculpture or printmaking” (32%), and “Dance” (26%).

Just over 7 out of every 10 (72%) young people stated that visiting a museum or science centre had improved their knowledge, while over half (57%) said that they “had fun” when visiting.

Almost all young people who had used the public library service had enjoyed their last visit (95%).

The publications are available on the DfC website.

Requests or enquiries concerning these statistics should be directed to:

Analytical Services Unit
Department for Communities
Lighthouse Building
Gasworks Business Park

Tel: 028 9082 9255

Notes to editors: 

  1. The report on adult engagement presents findings from the 2016/17 Continuous Household Survey which is an annual Northern Ireland wide household survey.  The report on engagement by young people presents findings from the 2016 Young Persons’ Behaviour and Attitudes Survey which is a triennial school based survey of Years 8-12.  Further information on the surveys, including sample design and response rates, is included in Definitions and technical notes of the statistical bulletins.
  2. The reports provide information on trends over time in engagement and participation across the various components of culture, arts and leisure including key findings relating to differences in participation rates among adults living in the most and least deprived areas of Northern Ireland. The bulletin includes key statistics engagement, attendance and participation in the arts; usage of the public library service; and visits to museums and science centres.  Analysis is presented by Section 75 groups and by the area in which people live (urban/rural and by deprivation).
  3. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Communities Press Office on 028 9082 3509 or email  Out of hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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