Cultural Participation and Wellbeing

Victoria Atec-Amestoy and Anna Villarroya

This new edition of the Dossier focuses on the social importance of culture being accessible and integratory, as well as on the contribution of the cultural sector to sustainable growth, innovation and employment.

Culture performs a significant role for constructing and consolidating the bases for social cohesion and inclusion, individual and collective wellbeing and the accumulation of social capital. In the individual sphere, cultural participation increases creativity, makes us happier, improves our health and favours our personal growth. Moreover, culture contributes to the construction of, and integration into, plural, reflexive and inclusive societies. As a tool for individual wellbeing and social transformation, it is necessary, therefore, to ensure effective and equal participation in culture for all citizens.

Culture also contributes to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, in line with the priorities of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Thus, in addition to its direct contribution to growth and employment, equally salient are its positive effects on education, social innovation and urban transformation processes.

This Dossier provides indicators on the economic value of culture and data on the main barriers to and determining factors of cultural participation, as well as the impact that this participation has on the subjective perception of wellbeing. Specifically, the Dossier shows the high degree of polarisation between attendees and non-attendees at cultural activities; in other words, between individuals who demand cultural activities, generally with a high income and high educational level (and young age in the case of cinema) and those who never attend and usually have low educational and income levels, with no interest in live performances nor in visiting sites of cultural interest and who do not have sufficient resources to fund the activity (in the case of cinema).

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