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Cultural Statistics in Europe

This section of the Compendium information system presents a first and regularly updated collection of comparative statistical data and graphs on:

In order to secure as much comparability as can be achieved under the present conditions, most of the tables and graphs are based on official data from national statistical offices and international / European bodies (some of the country profiles provide more recent figures, though). As regards international data, this section has benefited from the co-operation of the Council of Europe and/or the ERICarts Institute with institutions engaged in the field of cultural statistics such as the European Audiovisual Observatory or EUROSTAT. However, CUPIX data - an arts services and products prices index, whose first edition was launched in 2003 - are based on field research carried out by Compendium experts (who also contributed to some other tables, especially as regards cultural funding).

Up to 2011, members of the Statistics Working Group and Advisors have played an active role in the EU-LEG Group of experts on public financing for culture, cultural employment and participation. The EU-LEG group's public cultural financing classification has been implemented in chapter 6.4 of most Compendium country profiles. In January 2009, agreement was reached with EUROSTAT to look into new areas of cooperation. In April 2010, following the annual Authors' Meeting in Zurich, the domains classification used in the Compendium - which is to become part of a larger framework - has been updated (see under "Resources").

The Statistics Working Group and Advisors will also examine potential implications of the 2009 UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics (FCS) for current and future developments of the Compendium data collection and presentation. The draft and final FCS reports can be found in this section under "Resources".  

"Making Compromises to Make Comparisons... Cross-national Arts Policy Research" is the title of a legendary article published 1987 in the Journal of Cultural Economics. Its author, the late Mark Schuster, first complains about "misleading, unidimensional per capita comparisons" only to confess a few lines later that he had been contracted to carry out this type of exercise himself. To his own surprise, he then noted his "own growing curiosity" about the results and possible solutions to methodological problems, including the necessary compromises. Many of these challenges are tied to differing definitions or sources, to deficits in the systematic collection of data, or to a lack of harmonisation between government and industry statistics, to mention just a few of the problems. Download an updated version of Schuster's article: Informing Cultural Policy - Data, Statistics and Meaning.

Recognising these difficulties and searching for manageable solutions, the Compendium team has been committed, from its first edition (1999) to improve the basis for statistical comparisons by:

  • engaging in methodological debates (e.g. at its annual Experts' Assemblies and with representatives of the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, EUROSTAT experts and the former Cultural Statistics Observatory, Stockholm);
  • conducting surveys, mostly based on questionnaires;
  • developing indicators and monitoring tools (such as the CUPIX).

The Compendium can be considered a "testing ground" for statistical innovations in the cultural field. The statistical tables and trend analyses presented in the Compendium, including the collection of data presented in this section, remain "work in progress". They will be constantly enhanced, based on the feedback of users and experts.