Culture: it’s child’s play

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People are more likely to participate in and attend cultural activities as adults if they were encouraged to take part as a child, according to Scottish Government research.

The analysis of the 2007-08 Scottish Household Survey Culture Module has found that those who are encouraged to read for pleasure as a child are more than twice as likely to read for pleasure as an adult.

The research also found that children who play musical instruments, act, dance or sing are around three times more likely to engage in creative activity, such as art, writing and performing, as an adult.

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said:

“We know that culture and creativity deliver significant benefits for the people of Scotland – to our well-being, our communities and our economy. We want to build on our successes, such as our world-leading creative industries which generate £5.2 billion each year for the Scottish economy.

“We now have tangible evidence of a link between childhood experiences of culture and adult participation in creative activity. This research highlights the value of children taking part in cultural activities from an early age.

“We are already putting creativity at the heart of Scottish education, through Curriculum for Excellence. Our recently launched Education and Culture Action Plan fosters collaboration between the education and culture sectors to equip our children with the creative skills they need to succeed.

“However, as this research examined the impact of out-of-school cultural activity, it clearly demonstrates the importance of providing opportunities outside the classroom for children to access cultural experiences. This is a responsibility for all of us, not just those involved in the provision of culture but parents as well.

“In the face of the unprecedented cuts imposed by the Westminster Government, this research provides valuable information about the positive impact of encouraging childhood participation in culture and will help those in the public sector responsible for making decisions about cultural provision.”

The Scottish Household Survey analysis of the links between childhood encouragement and adult participation in cultural activities shoqws:

  • There is consistent evidence that people who were encouraged to attend and take part in cultural activities as a child are more likely to participate in and attend cultural activities in adulthood, compared with those who were not encouraged to do so
  • This evidence remains true even when other factors such as education, gender, age, income, deprivation and rurality of an area are accounted for
  • The effect of childhood encouragement is stronger where the cultural activity involves active participation, rather than just attendance
  • This research highlights the importance of policies promoting cultural activities for children, and the Curriculum for Excellence, which will helps to mainstream culture into the educational system and expose young people to arts and culture at an early age