Filimon, Nela: Patterns of social engagement with the arts emerging from cultural participation in Spain

Arts contribution to shaping social cohesion, individuals’ values and beliefs, community’s life and identity, has been largely documented. Nevertheless, international research evidence on the impact of arts attendance and cultural practices on individuals’ engagement with the arts is still scarce. This research covers two perspectives: first, is looking into various types of Spaniards’ engagements with the arts; second, it analyses the relationship between arts attendance and individuals’ engagement with the arts. Moreover, a special attention is given to the role played by gender, age and education level. Empirical analysis is performed with multivariate quantitative techniques and it is based on data from the Survey on Cultural Habits and Practices 2014-15, performed by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports, including more than 15,000 individuals, all Spanish residents, of 16 years of age or older. Apart from special blocks measuring interest and attendance to artistic and cultural activities (e.g., music, reading, museums, theatre, opera, cinema, etc.), the questionnaire also elicited information on individuals’ active participation in a variety of cultural and leisure practices (e.g., painting, writing, dancing, parks and fairs visiting, etc.). A special block is dedicated to the engagement with cultural activities at large, through volunteering, donating, and membership in cultural associations. Findings highlighted several issues: listening to music, followed by music in general, cinema, reading and, contemporary music concerts, are the top artistic activities Spaniards are interested in; on average, the greater the interest in a given artistic activity, the greater the likeliness of civic engagement with it, whatever its type; for the young people (below 35 years of age), the type of civic engagement (e.g. volunteering vs. donating) is conditioned by the artistic activity (e.g., music vs. cinema); on average, a higher education level is increasing the  likeliness of individuals’ engagement with the arts, etc. Findings could supply useful insights to cultural policy makers, especially given the importance of cultural capital in increasing the social support to arts.