I’ve just started having a look through Arts and Culture in Australia: a Statistical Overview, which has recently been put out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. (Download PDF via this page). Now, the ABS is hardly known for its page-turners, but it’s got off to a promising start with some intriguing figures.
In the first section, there are some stats looking at attendance to cultural venues according to age group (% visiting in the past 12 months). I wanted to see if there were any patterns in these data, so I took the numbers and graphed them out:
It’s a bit hard to see what’s going on here, besides the fact that the cinema is very popular with teens and declines steadily with age (and I don’t think I needed ABS data to tell me that!). So to get a closer look, I took the same data and graphed just the figures given for the cultural / heritage venues (Museums, Art Galleries, Zoos & Aquaria and Botanic Gardens):
This graph is a little more illuminating. Interestingly, despite reports that their audiences have distinct differences, Museums and Art Galleries seem follow a very similar curve – i.e. roughly the same proportion and age of people are visiting. And both show fairly predictable dip in the 18-24 age range (a notoriously hard group to catch).
Zoos also show a similar-ish pattern, although at a higher level of visitation in the middle range. This peak at 25-34 & 35-44 age groups is also not surprising, given these would be the peak age of people taking their children to visit the zoo.
The one that does surprise me out of all of this is the curve for Botanic Gardens – from a similar baseline at age 15-17, the curve defies the 18-24 dip of the others, and reaches a steadier, more sustained plateau.
The meaning of this – who knows? I just made up these graphs with the figures given, and it may or may not be appropriate to re-present the raw figures in this way. So yes, I could be over simplifying, or on the other hand this could be an interesting pattern to investigate further. If the report sheds any further light on the question, I’ll let you know!