Monday 18 April 2011

What is culture? A European perspective

What is culture?
Performing and visual arts was the response given by 39% of respondents.

How many people take part in public arts as performers: 15%

How many people associate culture with values and beliefs: less than 10%

True or false? Women read more books than men.True

True or false? Men read more newspapers than women.True

All this and much more can be found free of charge in the recent Eurostat Pocketbook from the European Commission called Cultural Statistics 2011.

Most of this information is based on straightforward statistics, which in themselves are interesting, but not transcendental to future development. For instance, who would have said cinema attendance could be so high in some countries:
“In Spain, Luxembourg, Iceland and Ireland, close to 10 % of
respondents went to the cinema more than 12 times a year”.

Other information shows how some young countries are falling behind their provision in education, for instance, the study of foreign languages. While the average number studied is 1.4, in Ireland and UK the number is lower than 1.

The importance of culture is not just in the benefits to those participating: culture is a major source of employment:
“In 2009, at EU-27 level, 3.6 million people were employed in
the five main cultural sectors of economic activity presented
above, representing 1.7 % of total employment.”

Employment in the cultural sector is dominated by those with tertiary education:
“ In all the countries studied, the percentage of persons
employed with tertiary education was much higher in the
cultural sectors than in total employment.”

Culture is widely regarded as being a feature of mobility of tertiary students:
“Regarding student inflows, Austria (13 %)
and the United Kingdom (9 %) recorded the highest shares
of foreign students from other EU-27 countries, EEA and
candidate countries.”

Those of us fortunate to live in Spain will not be surprised to learn that this country is the favourite destination of Erasmus candidates:
 “Spain was the primary host country, with
33 200 incoming students, followed by France (24 600) and
Germany (22 000).”
As for who chooses to move around the continent, the variation in mobility is noticeable. Spot the Brits here at the bottom of the table. Is there a connection between our dismal failure to promote the teaching of foreign languages and the reticence of our students to move around Europe? First you have to equip young people to move, then give them the opportunities….

“ As a percentage of the student population,
the highest rate of outgoing Erasmus students was recorded
in Luxembourg (15.5 %), followed by Austria (1.9 %) and
the Czech Republic (1.7 %). Outgoing Erasmus students
represented 1.5 % of the student population in Spain, Malta,
Belgium and Portugal. In contrast, the Erasmus programme
was chosen by less than 0.5 % of students in Bulgaria,
Greece, the United Kingdom and Romania.”
There is so much in this report that it is worth digesting at leisure. I would like to point out that the concept of culture unmistakably implies high art. It’s acceptable if that’s what you are studying, but I can say that the powerful impact of a pop culture figure like Lady Gaga, with her 32million followers on Facebook, is a powerful influence in the emotional lives of the young and not so young in Europe. Still, that’s another story….
As always, I am writing here from a European perspective concentrating on Spain and the UK. Please forgive me for not including so many mentions of the other 25 EU countries.
Here is a very significant statistic: “Less than 10 % of persons surveyed
associated culture with ‘values and beliefs’”
Thanks to Rubicon Servicios Culturales, through whose Fb page I discovered this document:

More information on the European Union is available on the Internet

1 comment:

  1. Interesting analysis. Thanks for the reference provided to F√°bricaCultural.