The most recent comprehensive study on public participation in the arts was published in late 2006, updating the last comprehensive survey which took place in 1994. The Public and the Arts 2006 found that Irish people generally had very positive attitudes to the arts, in particular the importance of the arts in education, the value of investment in the arts generally and in arts amenities, the role of the arts in society and the importance of exposure to the arts from different cultures in an increasingly multi-cultural Ireland. The top priority for people in terms of arts spending was for spending targeted at children and young people, followed by local, amateur and community-based arts and programmes aimed at areas of social disadvantage. Overall attendance and participation levels between 1994 and 2006 were shown to be similar. While no comprehensive fine-grained study has been conducted since 2006, Arts Audiences, using resources of the Target Group Index for Ireland, publishes information which quantifies arts attendances and provides some demographic and marketing information on arts attenders. Arts Audiences (http://artsaudiences.com/) is an initiative of the Arts Council and Temple Bar Cultural Trust which seeks to initiate and support audience-focused thinking in the arts. They have found that 57% (2 million) of the adult population are arts attenders of which 1.5 million attend once p.a. or more often. This corresponds with earlier data (2010). Highest attendance is at plays. (The surveys do not encompass film attendance.) Attendance has generally held steady through the recession though there is a suggestion that young people’s attendance does not correspond to their numbers in the population. Information is provided on gender, social class and age profile of attenders as well as their regional distribution.. (http://artsaudiences.com/category/reports/arts-attendance-in-ireland-reports/).
Table 11: Trends in attendance at the National cultural Institutions, 2006-2012
|National Archives||16 390||16 070||17 694||18 200||15 242||13 907||13 652|
|National Library of Ireland||109 623||103 362||136 509||138 809||185 591||206 342||181 152|
|National Museum of Ireland, Archaeology and History||368 842||407 202||380 547||370 965||366 201||402 582||409 275|
|National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts and History||245 291||374 347||296 101||313 790||258 822||295 488||271 309|
|National Museum of Ireland Natural History*||153 905||108 615||n/a||n/a||253 597||289 172||290 927|
|National Museum of Ireland Museum of Country Life||100 967||113 430||112 195||98 523||114 343||108 785||99 682|
|National Gallery of Ireland||749 696||740 407||742 332||782 469||736 855||624 412||660 486|
|Irish Museum of Modern Art||450 941||485 530||457 611||417 706||418 977||362 955||63 642**|
|National Concert Hall||320 390||328 330||337 520||342 568||318 667||293 639||322 222|
|Chester Beatty Library||230 299||252 175||226 543||218 338||206 653||247 729||255 704|
|Crawford Art Gallery||n/a||208 901||175 159||167 485||188 823||188 131||190 217|
http://www.ahg.gov.ie/en/Culture/CulturalInstitutions/ accessed on October 29, 2014.
* The National Museum of Natural History was closed from July 2007 until April 2010.
** The Irish Museum of Modern Art was relocated from the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham to Earlsfort Terrace for renovation from November 2011 until October 2013.
No information is available on the participation of national minority groups or immigrant groups in Irish cultural life, nor on audience composition at multi-cultural festivals. Nor is there information on private expenditure on cultural participation and consumption.