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Denmark/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.1 Trends and figures

Latest comparable numbers for Danish cultural consumption and participation are from 2004. These numbers are compared with corresponding numbers from 1987, 1993 and 1998 (see Table below).

Since 1993, there has, in general, been an increase in the amount of time spent watching television. This can be seen as the result of an increase in the supply of television broadcasting and a decrease in the participation at museums and theatres and other classical, public financed and organised cultural institutions, especially for people aged over 60 years. Instead, there has been an increase in attendance at concerts and cinema going.

Reasons for changes in cultural habits seem to be:

  • more and more cross-media and cross-cultural initiatives are competing for users;
  • cultural activities are more horizontally than vertically reflected and organised in the experience-society; and
  • the capitalisation of culture in recent years is, to a higher degree, focusing on promoting amusement activities as a supplement and alternative to "enlightenment" activities and public cultural institutions supported by state and municipalities.

Compared to the rest of Europe, Denmark and the other Nordic countries have higher cultural participation rates and higher use of public cultural institutions, from libraries to symphony concerts (see chapter 9.1 The Nordic Cultural Model).

Table 5:    Participation in cultural activities, percentage of adults over the age of 15

Type of activity





Heavily subsidised by the state (having participated at least once during the last year)

Theatres (including opera, musical, ballet)





Art exhibitions / museums





Museums other than art museums





Classical concerts





Rhythmical concerts















Without large public subsidies

Reading newspaper on a daily basis





Reading fictional literature on a weekly basis





Watching television more than 2½ hours on weekdays





Listening to radio more than 3 hours on weekdays





Listening to recorded music daily





Watching video / DVD almost weekly





Using the Internet daily during leisure time





Playing computer games almost weekly





Capturing participation rates at local level for popular culture events (no data available)

Source:    Trine Bille et al: Danskernes kultur- og fritidsaktiviteter 2004 – med udviklingslinjer tilbage til 1964. Akf forlaget 2005.

The comparative research on Danish cultural participation, from which the above information is extracted, will not be conducted again in the foreseeable future. It is therefore not possible to compare new figures that methodologically correspond to these figures above. However, the Special Eurobarometer 278 survey from 2007 produced figures that are comparable with other national statistics within that same survey. According to the survey, 27% of the selected population had been to the opera at least once during the previous twelve months, and those who visited the cinema 69%, the theatre 40%, concerts 58%, public libraries 68%, historical monuments 76%, and museums and galleries 65%. 89% of the selected population had, at least once, watched a cultural programme on TV or listened to such a programme on the radio, while 83% had read a book. In all cases, the cultural participation of the Danish population is above the EU27 average.

Concerning amateur activities, 16% had played a musical instrument, 27% had sung, 6% had acted, 26% had danced, 23% had written something (a text, a poem, etc.), 52% had been involved in decorative work, handicrafts or gardening, 51% had done some photography or made a film, while 29% had done other artistic activities, like sculpture, painting, drawing, creative computing such as designing a website, etc. In all cases, the Danish population was above the EU27 average.

Regarding Internet use, 53% of the Danish population use the Internet, apart from professional activity every day, a number only topped by the Netherlands in the EU27.

Main development trends

From a methodological point of view, the numbers extracted from Table 4 cannot be compared with the numbers extracted from the Eurobarometer survey, as different methods of data collection is used.

If a further look is taken at Table 4, and the development from 1987-2004, there has been an increase in the amount of time spent watching television over the last ten years. This can be seen as a result of an increase in the supply of television broadcasting.

On the contrary, the share of inhabitants reading a daily newspaper has decreased over the last ten years. This can be seen as a result of new possibilities for being updated on news via television and Internet.

There has been a decrease in visits to museums and theatres over the last ten years. Instead, there has been an increase in attendance at concerts and cinema going.

The cultural activity of the Danish inhabitants is very much dependent on differences, with respect to social, demographic and geographic circumstances. The degree of cultural activity is very much connected to the level of urbanity, education, employment, country of origin and lifestyle. People living in rural districts are the least culturally active, whereas people living in the capital are the most cultural active with regard to the number of different cultural activities in which people participate. People without education and people without employment are also the least culturally active, whereas the longer the education and the bigger the salary the more culturally active people are on average.

With regard to gender, there is a significant difference in respect of people not participating in cultural activities. 26% of men have neither been to a ballet, musical, opera, drama, classical concert, museum or library during the last year, whereas this only counts for 16 % of women.

With regard to age, cultural participation starts to decrease when people pass the age of 60. For the younger age groups, there is no difference in activity between different age groups.

Inhabitants in Denmark with another ethnical background than Danish do have a significant distinction from the average pattern. One of these distinctions is in the rate of library use; 9% of ethnical Danes use libraries almost every week, while for immigrants with a western background the number is 20%, and for immigrants with a non-western background the number is 37%. The survey also suggests that immigrants use free newspapers and Internet news sites more than ethnical Danes. On the contrary, there are some cultural activities which immigrants attend less than ethnical Danes, namely theatre, concerts and sports events. Regarding the rest of the different cultural activities, there are no significant differences between the participation in cultural activities of ethnical Danes and immigrants.

The Eurobarometer survey, from 2007, shows that Danes are frequent guests and users of subsidised cultural institutions, and come top of the list of EU countries in several areas. The same goes for Danish use of the Internet, where 43% of the selected population visit museum or library websites or other specialised websites to improve knowledge, 57% for searching for information on cultural products and events, 61% for reading newspaper articles online and 48% for buying cultural products, such as books, CDs, DVDs and theatre tickets online. Danes are also frequent users of Social Networking Sites; approximately 50% of the population has a profile on Facebook.

Even though recently there have not been any large scale comparable surveys on cultural participation and consumption, the Culture for all programme, issued in 2009 – was a call very much aimed at increased cultural participation. This has since been an ongoing process, for instance with reports like Outreach! – and research on user behaviour and participation patterns within the museum sector.

Chapter published: 11-04-2012

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