International comparisons on engagement with sport and culture

International comparisons on engagement with sport and culture

By Orian Brook


Ever wondered what the participation figures for sport and culture are like outside Great Britain?  How do we compare with Scandinavia? How does education across Europe affect participation levels?  This report outlines some of the key data gathered across Europe, highlighting where Great Britain does well, and where we might perhaps learn about engagement from our neighbours.

GB is in the second quartile of attendance rates for most cultural activities, having higher than average but not leading rates of attendance.

  • Consistently higher attendance is found in Scandinavia and the Netherlands.
  • GB is in the top quartile for attendance to theatre, public libraries, museums/galleries and reading books. It has lower than average attendance to sport events.
  • In most of Europe more people attend sports events than the theatre: this is not the case in GB, due both to our high ranking for theatre attendance and low ranking for sports event attendance

Of particular interest is the comparison with direct public spending on culture, which needs to be treated with caution, as different definitions are used and different time periods covered (KEA European Affairs, 2006, p123-124). Nevertheless, a pattern seems to emerge: levels of public attendance to culture seem to be related to levels of direct government funding. According to this analysis, the UK is estimated to have 5% higher cultural attendance than the European trend would predict.

Resource type: Research | Published: 2013