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Cultural Consumption and Participation of Latvian Population in Cultural Activities 2007-2014: Research Data and Statistics

The promotion of evidence-based cultural policy and the establishment of regular cultural research traditions were one of the general long-term objectives of the society's "Culturelab" research project entitled A Study of Cultural Consumption and Audiences of Cultural Activities, which was carried out with the financial support of the State Culture Capital Foundation, and whose results and conclusions were summed up in the publication Cultural Consumption and Participation of Latvian Population in Cultural Activities 2007-2014: The authors of the study are Culturelab researchers Gints Klasons (gintsklasons@gmail.com) and Baiba Tjarve (baibatj@gmail.com). The implementation of the study has allowed to obtain data on the population's attitude to culture in general, the most convenient channels of information and communication for target audiences, factors influencing the selection of cultural events, cultural consumption (including on the Internet) and participation in cultural activities, as well as identification of new cultural infrastructure objects and willingness to visit them. Since the study approbated a methodology used in preceding cultural consumption surveys, new data were comparable with previous survey data.

Cultural consumption surveys (i.e. surveys on activity rates of the population attending and participating in various cultural events) in Latvia have a relatively recent history. The first cultural consumption survey was conducted in 2006. Until then, the consumption of culture in Latvia was not systematically studied, although some questions about culture and related activities had been included in both household budget surveys and studies about leisure time activities, etc. A year later, a more capacious and methodologically more valuable cultural consumption study was carried out, which can be considered the first of regularly repeated surveys in subsequent years - there a similar methodology was used to be able to carry out assessments of data changes. By 2010, such studies were carried out once a year. In total, 5 studies on cultural consumption were implemented. Changes in the economic situation and interests of researchers resulted in discontinuity in researches of cultural consumption, thus the research project implemented in 2014 was the first cultural consumption study over the past four years.

During the period from 2007 to 2013 the population in Latvia as a whole decreased by 8% or 185,015 persons, thus, lessening the potential audience of cultural events and activities. At the same time, not all cultural areas have experienced a significant reduction in activities and several areas were experiencing even a remarkable increase. The readership at the National Library of Latvia has grown most significantly - the total rise is 315%, increasing the number of readers from 81,363 in 2007 to 256,189 persons in 2013. The total duration of radio broadcasting programmes (in hours) has increased by about 1/5. Similarly, the number of visits to theatres has grown (+16%), increasing from 860,000 to 994,000 during the corresponding period. The activity has risen by about 1/10 in several other areas too - the number of artistic amateur groups outside cultural centres, the number of readers in libraries, visits at museums, as well as the number of performances in theatres and the total duration in hours of TV broadcasters' shows have increased. It should be emphasised that, despite the increasing offer and availability of electronic mass media content, population habits and desire to attend theatres, museums and cinemas have not abated but have even slightly increased.

At the same time, there is a significant drop in certain cultural activities. The most significant fall hit the annual print run of newspapers in Latvian (-47%) along with books and brochures in Latvian (-38%). Also the number of feature films and full-length animated cartoons has decreased (-33%, although in absolute numbers this makes only 2 films, dropping from 6 to 4 movies). Similarly, the annual print run of magazines and other periodicals in Latvian has decreased by 1/5, but by about 1/4 - the number of TV broadcasters and documentaries and popular science full length films (in absolute numbers a drop from 5 to 4 films) and the number of books and brochures in Latvian. The number of museums and artistic amateur groups in cultural centres has dropped by about 10%.

Cultural activities with no major changes over the past seven years are as follows - the number of cultural centres, the number of movie show times visits, the number of theatres and cinemas, as well as the number of newspapers in Latvian.

Helpful resources, studies and publications can be found on the society's website at www.culturelab.com

Contact: Culturelab, L.Paegles 2D-26, Cesis, Latvia; e-mail: info@culturelab.com