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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 for 2010 the trend has been altogether quite positive if compared with the previous year (+10%), data for 2011, when tickets sold went down by 7%, clearly show the negative effects of the economic downturn.

Table 9:     Attendance figures for the performing arts, broken down by discipline, 2009 and 2010 (in thousands)

Field

2010

2011

% Var. (2011-2010)

Theatre

14 604

14 269

-2.2

Musical comedy

1 829

1 722

-5.8

Opera

2 064

2 040

-1.1

Dance

2 060

2 030

-1.4

Classical music concerts

3 308

3 387

+2.4

Cinema

120 583

112 120

-7.0

Total

144 448

135 568

-6.1

Source:     Siae, Annuario dello spettacolo 2010 and 2011.

With the only exception of classical music concerts, which have seen an audience increase of +2.4%, trends have been negative for all the other disciplines. Strangely enough (the high cost of admission should make this type of performance less affordable in times of financial constraints), the generally weak opera attendance only decreased by 1.1%. On the other hand, for the first time in years, even the constantly positive trend of theatre attendance was reversed, with a quite sharp decline (-2.2%).

Cinema, though, has been the most affected by the crisis: -7% in 2011 compared with the previous year, when an unprecedented record of more than 120 000 tickets sold had been reached. But the worst downturn is yet to come: ANICA data, in fact, show a much sharper decline in 2012 and in the first semester of 2013 ( chapter 4.2.3).

The positive trend of visitors to the 420 national museums and sites – started in 2010 and continued in 2011, also thanks to an active promotional campaign by MiBAC'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%). Data for the other museums (public local or private) are not available since 2006, when about 63 million visits were recorded (Istat, 2010); a new survey referred to year 2011 is presently underway.

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 refer to 2012: thus they take fully into account how these activities have been affected by the present economic downturn. Table 10 shows that the highest peak in participation in cultural events has been reached in 2010, i.e. at the beginning of the financial crisis. In the following years, participation has been more or less slowing down for all kinds of events, with only one exception: cinema, where the peak was reached, in 2011, and was followed in 2012 by a particularly sharp drop (4 points).

Table 10:   Participation in cultural activities and entertainment, in %, 2000-2012

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

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.

Participation in the media is far higher than for museums and the performing arts (see Table 11). Surprisingly enough – considering the financial constraints faced by Italian families – participation rates for cheap home-based activities like radio and TV watching have also been slowing down, along with the more expensive going-out activities. On the other hand, as far as reading habits are concerned, since 2007 there has been a marked decrease in reading newspapers, counterbalanced by a quite significant increase in book reading. A trend which has been actually in place for the entire decade, with Italy coming last, among European countries, according to the Eurostat pocketbook, in the reading rates of the press, but showing a quite dynamic trend of book reading in the same period: from 38.6% in 2000 to a peak of 46.8% in 2010, and only a slight decrease (46%) in 2012. Our reading index, though, still remains outrageously low, compared with the one of most other European countries (Eurostat, Cultural Statistics in the EU Pocketbook 2012).

Table 11:   Individuals watching television, listening to radio, reading newspapers and books, in %, 2000-2012

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

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.


Chapter published: 18-09-2013

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