Patterns of Attendance and Cultural Participation by Young People in the Canadian Theatre for Young Audiences and Children’s Festivals Sector

Pierre-Olivier Saire, George Krump, Ivan Habel, and Daigle / Saire

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From the report's "Introduction":

"In Canada, like elsewhere, the arts and culture sector is generally subject to the same kinds of forces that are changing the rest of society. These changes are primarily demographic, sociological, political, economic and technological.

This is the context in which the Canada Council for the Arts wanted to obtain a clearer understanding of the status of youth cultural participation and attendance, particularly in the Canadian Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) and children’s festivals sector.

The objectives of this exploratory research are to produce an analysis of the current situation of this sector across the country while considering the following questions:

  • What is the status of audiences for performing arts work that is created, produced and/or presented for young people, their families and educators, specifically in the Theatre for Young Audiences and Children’s Festivals sector? Are there differences between the Anglophone and Francophone sectors?

  • Do the patterns of attendance and participation in this specialized sector reflect overall societal patterns in youth arts engagement? Is this sector a microcosm of a larger demographic reality?

  • What are the identified factors that have an impact on issues of engagement/attendance in youth in general? Are these factors playing out similarly in the arts sector?

  • What are the actual or potential impacts on this specialized sector of changes in attendance and participation?

  • What are the factors that assist organizations in successfully navigating changes in attendance and participation?

The core research outlined in this report covers two groups operating in this sector: theatre organizations that receive operating funding from the Canada Council, and children’s festivals and presenters of young audience series that receive funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage under the Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters stream of the Canada Arts Presentation Fund. The research covers both the Anglophone and Francophone segments of this sector.

This research is the first of its type that is national in scope and is considered exploratory. It is not intended to produce recommendations but rather conclusions that have been validated by the various lines of analysis in this study."