03 Jul 2018

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Art makes New Zealand a better place to live New Zealanders

New Zealanders believe the arts make their communities better places to live and agree they should be a part of everyone’s education.

The results are included in Creative New Zealand’s triennial survey, New Zealanders and the Arts: Attitudes, attendance and participation in 2017, which was launched by Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern, in Wellington today.

Eight out of ten New Zealanders have participated in the arts or attended an arts event, or both, in the last 12 months resulting in a record high for arts engagement (80%).

“New Zealanders recognise the positive contribution the arts make to supporting strong, thriving communities and the development of happy, confident young New Zealanders,” said Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright.

In 2017 the research tested a range of statements including:

  • I feel proud when New Zealand artists succeed overseas (74% agree, 18% neutral)
  • the arts should reflect New Zealand’s cultural diversity (67% agree, 25% neutral)
  • the arts should be part of the education of every New Zealander (61% agree, 26% neutral)
  • the arts contribute positively to our economy (59% agree, 30% neutral)
  • the arts help to improve New Zealand society (57% agree, 27% neutral)
  • my community would be poorer without the arts (50% agree, 29% neutral)
  • I learn about different cultures through the arts (64% agree, 22% neutral)

“While the majority of New Zealanders agree the arts contribute to their communities there is an opportunity and a challenge to encourage more New Zealanders to take the plunge to attend more arts events,” said Mr Wainwright.

Three in five New Zealanders (62%) agreed that while some arts events interested them they still did not attend much.

“We will be using the survey findings to provide intelligence to the arts sector and inform our own decisions about how we can best use our resources to engage more New Zealanders with the arts,” said Mr Wainwright.

Please find all resources for the New Zealanders and the arts research (summary report, full reports, regional reports and interactive dashboards).

Access to the arts varies by region

In 2017 sample sizes were increased to allow Creative New Zealand to identify regional differences in attitudes towards the arts and levels of attendance and participation.

Those living in main provincial towns and cities are most likely to agree (50%) they have access to a broad range of arts and culture activities. Hotspots for arts access were Wellington city, Otago, Nelson city and Taranaki while access was viewed as more challenging in the West Coast, Southland, Waikato and Auckland.

“We need to find effective ways to boost arts engagement in some regions and work together to put ideas into practice,” Mr Wainwright said.

Please find survey results for each region

Art makes young New Zealanders confident

Young New Zealanders (10-14 year-olds) participating in the arts feel more confident (67%) and good about life (62%) while also making friends (58%).

Most young people (71%) were satisfied with their level of involvement in the arts. Those that wanted more access (21%) would do so if activities were cheaper or free or if there were more or better activities where they lived.

While overall the results were encouraging there was a decline in enjoyment and participation as young people entered their teenage years and secondary education and also differences between genders. Seventy-seven percent of girls agree that doing creative things makes them feel “really good”, compared to 57% of boys.

“We need to understand more about the lower levels of enjoyment and participation. The Arts Council has already made provision to invest $1 million per annum for the next five years to develop and implement a specific initiative to engage young people and youth in the arts,” Mr Wainwright said.

More detail on the initiative will be available in July after the Arts Council meets in June.

Please find survey results for young New Zealanders.

Support for identity and cultural understanding

In 2017 the survey included, for the first time, a number of statements about the impact of Ngā Toi Māori (Māori Arts). Six out of ten New Zealanders and 81% of Māori agree that Ngā Toi Māori helps to shape New Zealand’s national identity.

More than half of Māori respondents agreed that Ngā Toi Māori improved their sense of well-being (55%) and encouraged them to speak te reo Māori (52%).

Māori attend and participate in the arts more frequently than other groups with 33% attending 11 or more events a year and 31% participating in the arts 13 or more times a year, compared to the national average of 22% and 20%, respectively.

Pacific peoples are more likely than other New Zealanders to agree the arts foster social cohesion by helping people to understand other cultures (34% vs a national average of 17%) and by breeding tolerance and acceptance (20% vs 8%).

New Zealanders’ attendance at Pacific arts events has reached a high with 18% of New Zealanders attending at least one Pacific arts event in the previous 12 months, up from 14% in the 2014 survey.

Pacific arts events are reaching an ethnically diverse audience made up of Pacific peoples (52%), Māori (40%), Asian New Zealanders (18%) and New Zealand Europeans (14%).

At 79% Pacific peoples’ arts engagement, which is a measure of both attendance and participation, is in line with the record 80% arts engagement of all New Zealanders.

More than half of young New Zealanders (52%) had participated in the Pacific arts in the previous 12 months, which has grown steadily from 2008 when participation was 42%. 

About the survey

New Zealanders and the arts: Attitudes, Attendance and Participation in 2017 was an online survey conducted by Colmar Brunton consisting of more than 6,000 respondents with a margin of effort of +/- 1.3%.  In 2017 the survey methodology changed from telephone to online which had an impact on the results. To allow the 2017 data to be compared with previous surveys a parallel “lite” telephone survey was conducted alongside the online survey. Findings from the previous telephone surveys have been re-weighted to an online equivalent.

A companion Audience Atlas New Zealand 2017 has also been published. It provides a detailed insight into New Zealanders’ relationship with arts, which arts and cultural organisations can use to increase audience engagement.