This research was conducted by Mart Willekens and John Lievens at Ghent University, Belgium


This paper assesses the role of cultural capital, economic and social factors and time pressure on engaging in arts and heritage activities. It also analyses the difference between non-attendees and attendees, as well as the frequency of attendances in relation to gender, social network, economic factors, time constraints and marital status. The final data set consists of around 2,500 Flemish nationals aged between 14 and 85 who were asked about their engagement in cultural activities in the previous six months.

Approximately one third of people do not participate in arts and heritage activities

The social distinction obtained as a result of cultural engagement by parents is partially inherited by their children. On the other hand, a lack of economic capital (cash, income, assets etc.) does not seem to prevent engagement, so the problem of non-attendance might not be explained by high ticket prices.

Having a full-time job does not lower people's frequency of attendance

One might imagine that having a full-time job would generate time constrains and therefore lower the likelihood of attendees working full-time (compared to those working part-time), however the statistical model developed in the paper shows that in the majority of cases a part-time job decreases the frequency of arts and heritage attendance.

Having children negatively impacts engagement in arts and heritage activities for women more than men

Having a child diminishes the likelihood of engagement for all parents, but affects women to a greater degree due to fathers tending to shoulder fewer parental duties than mothers. The engagement of single women, however, is typically higher than single men.

This summary is by David Kohan Marzagao, King’s Knowledge Exchange Associate

Title Who participates and how much? Explaining non-attendance and the frequency of attending arts and heritage activities
Author(s) Willekens, M. & Lievens, J.
Publication date 2016
Source Poetics, Vol 56, Iss 1, pp 50-63
Open Access Link
Author email