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Attendance for the performing arts declined between 2013 and 2014 apart from cinema which increased by 5.6%.

 

A survey of visits to all Italian museums between 2006 and 2011 shows a 65% increase in attendance, although a separate survey shows a decline of 10% for national museum visits in 2012.

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Italy/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.1 Trends and figures

In Italy there are two different sets of data regarding cultural demand:

  • attendance data, measuring cultural consumption through the number of theatre tickets sold, the number of visitors to museums, etc, by collecting statistics and carrying out audience surveys. The main source of data for the performing arts is SIAE, the copyright society, whereas heritage data is regularly collected by the Heritage Ministry for national museums and sites; and
  • participation data, which is obtained through sample surveys, by singling out population rates involved in the various cultural activities: visiting museums and exhibitions, attending musical and theatrical performances, reading books and newspapers, etc. This data is mainly collected by ISTAT – Italy's national statistical institute – in the framework of its Multipurpose Survey, in line with those carried out in other European countries.

Both types of data are important, and needed. Attendance data – where upward trends can be determined by higher frequency by the same persons – are indicators of artistic and economic success, but they cannot be considered as social indicators of achievements in outreach to wider audiences. The latter can be measured through participation sample surveys, well correlated to socio demographic features (age, gender, profession, etc).

Attendance figures for the performing arts are collected on a yearly basis by SIAE. Whereas until 2010 the trend had not been altogether too negative, since 2011 the slowdown caused by the economic downturn is clearly visible.

Table 8:     Attendance figures for the performing arts, broken down by discipline, 2012 and 2013 (in thousands)

Field

2012

2013

% Var. (2012-2013)

Theatre

14 029

13 884

-1.1

Musical comedy

1 462

1 355

-7.3

Opera

2 057

2 046

-0.5

Dance

2 065

1 976

-4.3

Classical music concerts

3 212

3 096

-3.6

Cinema

100 146

105 740

+5.6

Total

122 971

128 097

+4.2

Source:     Siae, Annuario dello spettacolo 2012-2014.

In particular, if the global trend of tickets sold for the performing arts in the last year has been quite positive (+4.2% between 2012 and 2013), this is true only for cinema in Italy– by far the most popular form of entertainment in Italy – with a growth in attendance of 5.6%. On the other hand, the live performing arts disciplines did not do well: the number of tickets sold for opera has remained quite stagnant (in spite of their extremely high cost), but the once quite dynamic attendance for dramatic theatre decreased, and classical music concerts and dance performances fared even worse.

As far as museum visits are concerned, the positive trend for visitors to the 405 national museums and sites – starting in 2010 and continued in 2011, also thanks to an active promotional campaign by MIBACT's DG for the Valorisation of Cultural Heritage (see chapter 8.2.2) – was also reversed: from 40 174 000 in 2011 to 36 345 000 in 2012 (-10%). On the other hand, data for all Italian museums (public, local or private) elaborated by Istat's Special surveys on Italian museums, 2011(http://www3.istat.it/dati/catalogo/20110524_00/)shows a 65% increase in attendance over six years, compared with a previous survey carried out in 2006: increasing from 63 million visits in 2006 to 104 million in 2011.

Participation trends in cultural activities (the ratio of the adult population involved in different types of activities) have been monitored by ISTAT on a yearly basis since 1993 in the framework of the Multipurpose survey. The last published data for "going out" activities, referring to 2013, take fully into account to which degree these activities have been negatively affected by the present economic downturn.

Table 9:     Participation in cultural activities and entertainment, in %, 2000-2013

Year

Theatre

Cinema

Museums and exhibitions

Classical music concerts (incl. opera)

Other concerts

2000

17.2

44.7

28.6

8.5

18.3

2001

18.7

49.4

28.0

9.1

19.0

2002

18.7

49.7

28.1

9.0

19.4

2003

17.9

47.5

28.7

8.8

20.5

2005

19.9

50.7

27.6

8.9

19.6

2006

20.0

48.9

27.7

9.4

19.5

2007

21.0

48.8

27.9

9.3

19.2

2008

20.7

50.2

28.5

9.9

19.9

2009

21.5

49.6

28.8

10.1

20.5

2010

22.5

52.3

30.1

10.5

21.4

2011

21.9

53.7

29.7

10.1

20.8

2012

20.1

49.8

28.0

7.8

19.0

2013

18.5

47.0

25.9

9.1

17.8

Source:     ISTAT, Indagine multiscopo: Aspetti della vita quotidiana.
Note:         Data refer to those aged over 6 years having attended the above mentioned activities at least once during the previous year.

As Table 9 shows, the highest peak in participation in cultural events was reached in 2010, i.e. at the beginning of the financial downturn. In the following years, participation has been more or less slowing down for all kinds of events, with the only exception of cinema, where the peak was reached in 2011, and was followed in 2012 by a particularly sharp drop, also protracted for 2013. This shows how an increase in attendance (see Table 8) is not necessarily parallel with an increase in the participation rate.

Participation in the media is far higher than for museums and the performing arts.

Table 10:   Individuals watching television, listening to radio, reading newspapers and books, in %, 2000-2013

Year

TV (a)

Radio (a)

Newspapers (b) (c)

Books (b) (d)

2000

93.6

62.5

57.0

38.6

2001

94.5

63.2

61.7

40.4

2002

94.3

62.8

62.4

41.2

2003

94.7

64.6

60.1

41.4

2005

94.5

63.8

58.1

42.3

2006

94.2

63.0

58.3

44.1

2007

93.8

62.8

58.1

43.1

2008

94.3

59.8

56.6

44.0

2009

93.6

59.8

56.2

45.1

2010

93.5

59.5

55.0

46.8

2011

94.0

59.0

54.0

45.3

2012

92.4

58.3

52.1

46.0

2013

92.3

57.3

49.4

43.0

Source:     Istat, Indagine multiscopo: Aspetti della vita quotidiana.
Note:         Data refer to: (a) over 3-year olds, (b) over 6-year olds; (c) individuals reading a newspaper at least once a week; (d) individuals reading at least one book a year.

Surprisingly enough – considering the financial constraints faced by many Italian families – participation rates for cheap home-based activities like radio and TV watching are also continuing to slow down, along with the more expensive going-out activities. On the other hand, as far as reading habits are concerned, the marked decrease in reading newspapers has been counterbalanced by a quite significant dynamic in book reading between 2007 and 2012, with a reading index increasing from 43% to a peak of nearly 47% in 2010, to fall back again to 43% in 2013. However, it must be noted that our reading index, notwithstanding its dynamic since the year 2000, still remains outrageously low, compared with most other European countries (Eurostat, Cultural Statistics in the EU Pocketbook 2012).


Chapter published: 05-02-2015

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              Council of Europe/ERICarts, "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 15th edition", 2014 | ISSN 2222-7334