France/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation
8.2.1 Trends and figures
The Department of Studies, Future Trends and Statistics (DEPS) of the Ministry of Culture and Communication has carried out 4 surveys on cultural participation in France, published in 1974, 1982, 1990 and 1998 (a new survey is in process).
Latest results are available from the documents of the Ministry of Culture and Communication (http://www.culture.gouv.fr/deps) particularly from Développement culturel n°128 and Culture Prospective, 2007/3. A summary of the results are as follows:
Initially disappointment, meaning that the cultural efforts did not obtain the anticipated results
- readership figures continue to decline, especially for young people;
- the relative failure of "cultural democratisation". "Cultivated" and subsidised institutions (theatre, choreography, classical concerts, museums and exhibitions of fine and contemporary art, historic buildings) remain the prerogative of the educated social classes;
- the decline of attendance at cinemas is continuous since 1947 (from 440 to 180 million visits per annum. Index of frequentation from 11 to 3); and
- finally, the difference between the high cultural practices of those living in Paris and in Région Ile de France compared to those in the other régions, remains alarming.
Then confirmation of results envisaged in advance
- an increasing number of French households own radio and television sets, audio-visual equipment and new technologies (50% of the households subscribed to the Internet at the end of 2006); and
- increases in and diversification of leisure trips (walks, tourism).
Finally, some pleasant surprises in that some practices have evolved more positively than forecasted
- a boom in musical life (equipment, listening, eclecticism of tastes);
- an increase in community life;
- the success of the "amateur arts" (music, dance, theatre, visual arts, writing);
- the rise of multi-media in the domestic space; and
- an increasing interest in street festivals.
In 1998, the DEP published the results of a fourth survey on cultural practices of the French, which it had previously carried out in 1973, 1981 and 1989. The results demonstrated:
- that the French continued to be well equipped with audio-visual products and devoted an increasing share of their time to this field;
- a fall in the quantity of books read, which contrasted with a rise in the success of libraries and media libraries;
- a small rise in visits to traditional cultural venues (museums, theatres, concert halls...), although the sociological make-up of the visiting public changed little (educated); and
- lastly, amateur artistic activities continued to progress.
In conclusion, the interest for art and culture has currently more diverse forms than thirty years ago, due to the development of the audio-visual media and new technologies, the success of cultural events being held away from traditional venues, and the rise in amateur artistic practices.
Chapter published: 27-02-2008