Are young Londoners engaging with the city’s arts and culture?

23 September 2013

We launch today a report into the findings of a cultural engagement survey of young Londoners.

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(Image credit: The Dorfman Hub by Sophie Laslett for the Roundhouse)

The survey suggests that huge numbers of young Londoners are not benefitting from the world class culture available on their doorsteps.

Over 1,660 young Londoners aged 11-25 were surveyed online between February and March this year, to find out more about their participation in free time activities, attendance at a range of cultural venues and events, attitudes to culture including motivations and barriers to involvement.

The report, ‘Culture Engagement by Young Londoners’ (authored by Catherine Bunting) highlights findings that suggests schools play an essential part in ensuring young people have arts and cultural experiences as part of their lives (e.g. a trip to a museum or theatre), particularly those from less privileged backgrounds, and that young people Not in Education, Training or Employment (NEET), and young people living in Outer London, are significantly less likely to take part than their peers.

Research Findings:

  • 46% of young people from higher social grades are more likely to say their first memorable cultural experience was organised by their parents, compared to a 30% response from those from lower social grades.
  • Schools are particularly important for introducing young people to more ‘formal’ art-forms – such as art exhibitions, museum visits and theatre – where young people are as likely to attend in their spare time (compared to cinema, circus or carnivals which are overwhelming done outside of school).
  • NEET young people are significantly less likely to engage than their contemporaries. 66% of 16-25 year olds in paid employment or undertaking an apprenticeship, training or internship had been to the theatre in the past year compared with just 44% of those NEET.
  • Engagement in cultural activities decreases as children get older, with rates of attendance declining sharply from age 16.

The survey results reinforce the idea that proximity to cultural venues is critical to engagement. Apart from in relation to cinema, 11-25 year olds living in Outer London were less likely than those in Inner London to have engaged with the arts.

Overall levels of engagement are high – significantly higher than for the national adult average – but this masks big differences within art-forms. Nearly 90% of 11-25 year olds attended the cinema in the last year, compared to just over 60% who went to an art exhibition or 45% who attended a live dance performance.

To read the full report go here

For media enquiries, or hard copy requests, please contact Luis Dominguez on 020 7608 8971 or or Steve Woodward on 020 7608 8977 or

Notes to editors:

About the Author
Catherine Bunting has over 12 years’ experience of research, evaluation and impact assessment in the public, private and voluntary sectors. She has extensive experience of arts and cultural research, with an emphasis on understanding cultural participation and its value. Catherine is a member of the team working on the AHRC-funded project ‘Everyday Participation’, exploring the ways in which people participate in culture in everyday life, and is also leading an impact study of CultureHive, a major programme run by the Arts Marketing Association to raise standards in marketing and audience development.

Findings in the report are based on an online survey conducted by TNS in February 2013. 1664 people aged 11-25 living in London were surveyed.