April 5, 2006

Nine out of 10 New Zealanders involved in the arts
National survey findings "resoundingly positive"

A staggering nine out of 10 New Zealanders (87.5%) are involved in the arts as participants and/or audience members, according to a report released today by Creative New Zealand. This figure suggests New Zealanders are ahead of their counterparts in other countries in their enthusiasm for the arts, says Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Elizabeth Kerr.

Late last year Creative New Zealand commissioned  research company Colmar Brunton to conduct a national survey examining attitudes to, attendance at and participation in the arts. The findings are published in a report, New Zealanders and the arts: Ngā iwi katoa ō Aotearoa me ngā mahi toi.

When asked about their attitudes to the arts:

  • 74% of New Zealanders 15 years and over said they believe the arts contribute positively to our economy
  • 76% believe the arts help define us as New Zealanders; and
  • 77% believe the arts should receive public funding.

Findings also show that:

  • 84% of New Zealanders attended at least one arts event in the past year
  • one in three New Zealanders (32%) attended an arts event at least once a month, and
  • half the population (50%) actively participated in the arts.

Miss Kerr says the findings are "resoundingly positive", vindicating the Government’s significant investment in and ongoing support for New Zealand’s arts and artists. They also endorse private-sector sponsorship of the arts.

"We’re delighted to have evidence that shows New Zealanders value the arts and that regardless of whether or not they are attending or participating, they believe the arts should receive funding from central and local government," Miss Kerr says. "As New Zealand’s main arts development organisation with an overview of all artforms, Creative New Zealand takes a lead in providing market intelligence to the arts sector."

Miss Kerr says the research will also provide valuable benchmark data when Creative New Zealand conducts a follow-up survey in three years, to measure changes in attitudes, attendance and participation over that period.

 "Of course, the main value of the research lies in the way we use it," she says. "We’re already using the findings to inform our work in arts participation and audience development. Arts organisations and arts marketers will be able to use the research to help them target their audiences more effectively."

For instance, findings show that many of those who attend few arts events are still supportive of the arts but need encouragement from their social networks to attend.

"There’s great potential for us to influence this low-attendance group, and our Audience and Market Development team is working with arts organisations to develop programmes such as Test Drive the Arts for first-time attendees and peer-to-peer marketing strategies," Miss Kerr says.

Creative New Zealand undertook the survey with some financial involvement from the Auckland City Council, which wanted to gather more robust data about the Auckland region. Findings, contained in a separate Auckland report available from Auckland City Council, reveal how Aucklanders feel about the arts in their city – their importance, quality, range and availability.

As well as a national sample of almost 1400 New Zealanders 15 years and over, the survey included  a booster sample of young people aged between 10 and 14 years.

Findings show that young people have very positive attitudes towards the arts and high levels of involvement, with 87% agreeing that the arts are enjoyable and 63% saying their friends are interested in the arts.

The survey also examined the attendance and participation habits of respondents across the visual arts, performing arts, literature, Māori arts and Pacific arts. Findings show that 35% of respondents attended at least one Māori arts event in the previous 12 months while 16% participated in Māori arts. Attendance at Māori arts events over the past three years showed the biggest increase across all areas of the arts.

There was a similar level of interest in Pacific arts with 33% of respondents attending at least one Pacific arts event in the previous 12 months and 12% participating in Pacific arts.

 "The arts are a powerful expression of a nation’s identity," Miss Kerr says. "This research shows New Zealanders celebrating the artistic and cultural life of their communities and the increasingly diverse population that makes up New Zealand."

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