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 too negative, the slowdown caused by the economic downturn since 2011 is still progressing, with a 6.1% decrease in 2014 compared with the previous year.
Table 8: Attendance figures for the performing arts, broken down by discipline, 2013 and 2014 (number of tickets sold, in thousands)
|Field||2013||2014||% Var. (2013-2014)|
|Theatre||14 029||13 747||-1.1|
|Musical comedy||1 355||1 255||-7.4|
|Opera||2 046||2 001||-2.2|
|Dance||1 976||2 048||+3.6|
|Classical music concerts||3 096||3 111||+0.5|
|Cinema||105 740||98 252||-7.8|
|Total||128 242||120 414||-6.1|
Source: Siae, Annuario dello spettacolo 2014.
The worst trend has been registered for cinema, following a quite significant, if anomalous, growth in attendance in the previous year. But the trend has been negative – or stagnant – for the performing arts disciplines as well, where dance has been the only positive exception.
Interestingly, on the other hand the trend for museum visits – notwithstanding the protracted economic recession – seems presently to oppose the current downward trend. As far as visitors to the 405 national museums and sites are concerned, the present positive trend started in 2010, first thanks to active promotional campaigns by MiBACT’s former DG for the Valorisation of Cultural Heritage, and later on thanks to the audience development strategies devised by minister Franceschini (see chapter 6.1). As a matter of fact, the number of visitors actually increased by +15% in the last six years: from 37.3 million in 2010 to 42.9 million in 2015. Less recent data for all 4 740 Italian museums (public, local or private) elaborated by Istat’s Special surveys on Italian museums, 2011 (https://www.istat.it/en/archivio/167568) show an even higher increase in attendance, compared with a previous similar survey carried out in 2006: +65% over six years, that is 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 2014, 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 %, 2000-2014
|Year||Theatre||Cinema||Museums and exhibitions||Classical music concerts (incl. opera)||Other concerts|
ISTAT, Indagine multiscopo: Aspetti della vita quotidiana, 2015.
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 – in 2011 for cinema – i.e. at the beginning of the financial downturn. Since then, participation has been more or less slowing down for all kinds of events and artistic disciplines – including museums, notwithstanding the high increase in visitors – with a slightly positive reversal, though, starting for all disciplines in 2014.
It should be thus noted that the divergences between museum attendance and participation show how trends in the former – dealing with the number of visits – are not necessarily parallel with trends in the participation rate, dealing with the rate of the population actually involved!
Participation in the media is far higher than for museums and the performing arts.