D5: The Need for Data on Amateur Arts


Original description: In Europe, data on numbers of people involved in amateur arts are scarce, while the importance of evidence-based policy is increasing. There is a growing urge for valid figures for advocacy purposes, both to influence strategies of the European Commission as well as cultural policies of individual states. Regrettably, neither Eurostat nor any other source gives us the detailed, compatible and validated information on the amateur arts we need. It is therefore of vital importance to develop a methodology and a questionnaire which can be used in all European countries. Together we share and discuss our ideas about collecting new data and the way to initiate that. John Lievens (Ghent University, Belgium) presents the report ‘Considerations regarding Comparative European Research into Amateur Arts Participation’. This session is initiated by the team for Research and Documentation from the European network Amateo.

Summary and lessons learned

One of the aims of AMATEO’s Arts Take Part project is to emphasize the importance of amateur arts. More hard evidence is needed to approach the European Commission and the European Parliament in order to get the amateur arts on the European Agenda. The network wants to achieve this goal through initiating pan-European research. In this session we discovered how this research could be carried out.

If we want to know how many European citizens are involved in amateur arts, we need to conduct a population survey. How this could be done, and what topics should be covered, have been described in the Novigrad Report (Lievens, Fyfe, Van den Broek, Milohnić and de Rooij, 2012). Researchers can learn from countries that already do population surveys on amateur arts, for example Flanders, The Netherlands and Denmark. From these examples we learn that quantitative data is used by politicians and policy servants. However, the impact – i.e. the way research data is used to change systems, policies or practices – is relatively small.

The participants suggest that we do not only need facts and figures, but also information on the values people attach to participatory arts, and the impact it has on people’s lives. Information on the non-participant is needed, as well as data about the financial impact of amateur arts. Other suggestions were that we need to know more about the relationship between amateurs and professionals, about facilities and people with a migrant background. The Research and Documentation team will use these suggestions to develop a European questionnaire.