Although from 2008, this is a useful exploration of socio-cultural barriers to arts engagement with a specific Welsh context. Interestingly, the decline is associated with the closure of industries that had their own cultural institutions, which provided significant ‘bottom up’ opportunities for cultural engagement. The loss of this infrastructure coincided with what the report calls “new poverty” and corresponding erosion of “cultural and social values” in the poorest communities (which at one point totalled 27% of the Welsh population). For more affluent communities, the explanation given is the rise of competing leisure activities. Barriers identified include lack of public transport, community safety issues, cost and lack of interest (a perception that the arts are not relevant). Report also identifies the infrastructural elements that can be provided to increase engagement (venues, arts officers, outreach activity etc) which are still relevant and can provide a template for good practice.

Professor Dave Adamson, Penny Byrne, Dr Neil Caldwell, Anne England, Professor Hamish Fyfe
Arts Council Wales
1 March 2008
Arts and Public Engagement Patterns, processes and levers for change