Research > Drivers of Attendance

Diversity and Drivers of Arts Attendance

Conductor surrounded by musicians and audience members during an outdoor performance.
The Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean performing outdoors. Photo: Stephan Tremblay.

Attendance is high among new Canadians and “feeling welcome” is an important driver for frequent attendance at arts events, according to a supplementary analysis of Culture Track Canada data completed by Nanos Research Group.

Diversity and Drivers of Arts Attendance was commissioned from Nanos by Canada’s Performing Arts Alliance. Using the Culture Track Canada dataset (from an online survey of 6,444 Canadians, conducted in December 2017 and January 2018), the report explores what’s motivating arts attendance among different segments of the Canadian population, and how these motivators influence frequency of attendance at classical music, popular music, musicals, opera, ballet and theatre, as well as art museums and galleries.

The report finds that attendance at these seven cultural activities tends to be higher among immigrants and first generation Canadians. The report also provides detailed attendance statistics according to ethnic origin and languages spoken in the household.

The report also reveals that “Feeling welcome” and “Feeling like it gives life a deeper meaning” are among the most important drivers for frequent performing arts attendees. Interestingly, in the full Culture Track Canada report, these drivers fare well below most other drivers in the list of sixteen motivators. This is because the full report presented motivators reported by all respondents, regardless of how frequently they attended. Thus, while having fun is an almost universal reason to attend, it does not explain why someone attends more or less. And whereas “Feeling welcome” may be an irrelevant motivator for many irregular attendees, it matters a great deal to those who attend most often.

This report is essential reading for anyone involved in producing or presenting classical music, popular music, musicals, opera, ballet or theatre in Canada. Readers are encouraged to compare and contrasts these findings with the full Culture Track Canada raw data, as well as with other attendance report such as Arts and Heritage Access and Availability 2016-2017 and Demographic Patterns in Canadians’ Arts Participation in 2016.

It should be noted that sample size limitations prevented the inclusion of many other activities such as world music, jazz and contemporary dance. Detailed statistics for these activities are however available in the Culture Track Canada raw data spreadsheet.

Read the report

Diversity and Drivers findings CAPACOA were explored and discussed during a web conference facilitated by Bridget MacIntosh, on May 9th, 2019, as well as during a presentation by Nik Nanos in Ottawa, on November 15th, 2019.

Web conference recording

Web conference presentation

Web conference recap

Presentation by Nik Nanos on Drivers of Arts Attendance


Frédéric Julien
Director of Research and Development
Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA)
613-562-3515, ext. 3