Scottish household survey 2019: culture and heritage - report

Reports on culture and heritage data from the 2019 Scottish Household Survey.

This document is part of a collection

1 Introduction and Context

1.1 Introduction to the Scottish Household Survey

This report summarises the findings on culture and heritage from the 2019 Scottish Household Survey (SHS). The SHS asks questions of a random sample of people in private residences in Scotland. Questions are asked face-to-face by an interviewer in homes all over Scotland. Participation is voluntary, and is important in helping us make representative estimates for Scotland[4].

The survey runs continuously. It started in 1999 and, up to 2011, followed a fairly consistent survey design. From 2012 onwards, the survey was substantially redesigned to include elements of the Scottish House Condition Survey[5] (SHCS) including the follow-up physical survey component. The SHS is now essentially three surveys in one: Transport and Travel in Scotland Survey (TATIS), the SHCS as well as the SHS. The survey is run through a consortium led by Ipsos MORI.

The SHS is designed to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of private households and individuals, both nationally and at a sub-national level, and to examine the physical condition of Scotland’s homes. It covers a wide range of topics to allow links to be made between different policy areas.

Questions regarding cultural attendance and participation are asked of the full sample, with the exception of some follow-up questions asked of a section of the sample (e.g. regarding the frequency of attendance or participation as this follow-up question is only asked of those who reported attending/participating in cultural events or activities). Where a question is not asked of a full sample, this is highlighted. Some of the questions are only asked every other year[6]. While the overall sample size of the survey reduced from 2012 onwards, from around 14,000 household interviews to about 10,000, the survey design improvements have meant that the precision of estimates has not been affected significantly. From 2012, it is possible to obtain local authority estimates on an annual basis where sample sizes produce robust estimates. Up to 2011 the data were collected over two years and the local-authority level data were available only after the two-year cycle was completed.

Further technical information on the 2019 SHS will also be published through the Technical Reports. The Technical Reports comprise of two documents; one providing details of the questionnaire[7] used during 2019 fieldwork; and a more detailed technical report detailing the methodology and fieldwork outcomes[8]

This year, the SHS Annual Report[9] is a more concise volume, containing a one page summary of each topic area. Alongside this a Key Findings report[10] is published, and all national and local authority level data are made available on the online SHS Data Explorer[11]

1.2 Culture and Heritage Policy Context

The Scottish Government’s vision for culture is for a Scotland where culture is valued, protected and nurtured, and where its transformative potential is experienced by everyone. The Scottish Household Survey is the main source of data on cultural engagement and heritage in Scotland.

The Culture Strategy for Scotland[12] was published in February 2020 following engagement and consultation with artists, cultural organisations and communities across Scotland in 2018 and 2019. The Strategy, which is even more relevant in the light of the wide-ranging effect of COVID-19, highlights the positive impact that culture has on society and its potential to contribute to individual, community and national resilience, wellbeing and prosperity.

The Strategy sets out three ambitions:

  • Transforming through culture 
  • Empowering through culture 
  • Strengthening culture 

The new national outcome for culture, as part of the National Performance Framework[13], signifies that Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Government recognise the potential and importance of culture as an intrinsic part of Scotland’s wellbeing and that other policy areas should give consideration to it. The national outcome is:

"We are creative and our vibrant and diverse cultures are expressed and enjoyed widely"

Four national performance indicators inform progress against this outcome. These are:

  • Attendance at cultural events or places of culture 
  • Participation in a cultural activity
  • Growth in the cultural economy
  • People working in arts and culture

The first two national indicators are reported on using the data from the SHS at national and sub-national levels that are presented in this report. 

All data reported in this publication help the Scottish Government and our key partners across the public sector and cultural sectors to monitor the progress of Culture Strategy ambitions which in turn will inform strategic policy decisions and broader ambition. The new National Partnership for Culture, from June 2020, also plays a role in advising on other sources of evidence and data regarding the impact of culture. 

1.3 Measuring Attendance, Participation and Cultural Engagement

The National Performance indicator, "attendance at a cultural event or visiting a place of culture"[14] refers to "the percentage of adults who have attended or visited a cultural event or place in the last 12 months"[15]. Respondents to the SHS are asked: "in the last 12 months have you been to any of these events or places?". They are given a list of 15 options to choose from, including cinemas, museums, libraries, and live music events, for example (and the option to respond ‘none’). 

Likewise, in the National Performance Framework "participation in any cultural activity" refers to "the percentage of adults who have participated in a cultural activity in the last 12 months"[16]. Respondents to the SHS are asked: "in the last 12 months have you done any of these activities?". They are given a list of 15 options to choose from,  including reading for pleasure, dancing, and crafts, for example (and the option to respond ‘none’).

Cultural engagement is a composite measure, and encompasses either attendance at or participation in at least one type of cultural event, place or activity in the past 12 months. 

The SHS is the primary source of information on cultural attendance and participation in Scotland and is the only source of data on these at local authority level. Questions on cultural attendance and participation were introduced in the SHS for the first time in 2007. It is possible to obtain data at local authority level every year from 2012 onwards. 

Annex 1: Glossary provides a full list of activities, places or events for cultural attendance and participation. When respondents are asked about their cultural attendance and participation "in the last 12 months" this is referring to the 12 months prior to the respondents interview and not the calendar year January-December 2019.

Please note that figures from 2018[17] onwards are not directly comparable with previous years, due to changes that were made to the culture questions in 2018. Therefore, the pre-2018 figures are provided for context only. As part of a substantial review of the whole SHS questionnaire, new response categories were added to better understand the nature and frequency of attendance and participation at cultural events, places, and activities. For example, ‘streaming of a live performance’ and ‘viewing cultural content online’ were included to collect information on newer forms of digital cultural engagement. Some of the activities and events were also reworded (e.g. ‘Gallery’ became ‘Art Gallery’ and ‘Dance show / event - e.g. ballet’ became ‘Dance, either for fitness or not for fitness’). As a result of the changes, the order of the activities, events and places was also changed in the response list. For a more detailed overview of the changes to the questionnaire, see Annex 2.

For this reason, changes across attendance, participation and engagement data between 2018 and 2019, and previous years will not be reported in this publication in detail. The 2018 culture data are treated as a new baseline. 

All year-on-year and sub-group comparisons reported in this publication have been tested for statistical significance. Therefore, any comparisons highlighted in the report are statistically significant. A further explanation on statistical significance can be found in Annex 3 of the SHS annexes 2019[18].



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