People with a high level of education are more likely to participate in the arts, a new study suggests.
Social status and income didn’t seem to affect participation in music, painting, photography, dance and drama, but having a college degree did, according to the report published recently in the journal Sociology.
“Arts participation, unlike arts consumption and cultural engagement generally, is not closely associated with either social class or social status. This result deviates from the expectation — unexpectedly, those with higher incomes are less likely to be arts participants,” wrote study leader Aaron Reeves, a sociologist at the University of Oxford in England.
The study involved slightly more than 78,000 people. Eighteen percent were involved in painting or photography, 9 percent danced, 10 percent were involved in music, 2 percent participated in drama or opera, and 6 percent were writers. Reeves said that 22 percent were not involved in any artistic activities.
Those with higher incomes were no more likely to participate in cultural activities than those making less money, the study found. Other factors that were not linked to the likelihood that someone would be active in the arts: higher social status or a high-level job.
Education was the strongest link to arts participation, the study showed. People with a college degree were about four times more likely to paint or engage in photography than those who didn’t go to college. College graduates were also five times more likely to be involved in dance or make crafts. They were also four times more likely to play a musical instrument, the study found.
Reeves suggested that one reason for the link between education and involvement in the arts could be because college graduates may have the intellectual capacity to not only enjoy but also participate in these cultural activities. Colleges partially base their admissions decisions on students’ extracurricular and cultural activities, which increases the odds that undergrads are already active in the arts, he added.
The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies has more about arts participation.