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P62 The impact of area deprivation on engagement in arts and cultural activities: evidence from a UK nationally-representative study
  1. HW Mak1,
  2. R Coulter2,
  3. D Fancourt1
  1. 1Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Geography, University College London, London, UK


Background There is a growing body of literature suggesting that arts and cultural engagement can benefit physical, mental and social wellbeing. However, there is evidence that there is a social and geographical gradient across the engagement; more likely to be engaged by people with higher educational qualifications and those living in affluent countryside and cosmopolitan neighbourhoods. But it remains unclear precisely why this might be. Examining the geographical patterns of arts engagement has particular policy relevance at present, given the growing interest in the ‘social prescribing’ scheme, a place-based health approach, and in place-based funding in arts in health research and programmes. However, as yet, there has been little research into whether place has an effect on patterns of arts and cultural engagement independent of individual factors. Therefore, in this study, we sought to disentangle associations between geographical deprivation and arts engagement from individual measures of socio-economic positions by using the propensity score matching (PSM) technique.

Methods We analysed data from 18,587 participants in the Understanding Society Wave 2 and used PSM to match individuals who lived in the 30% most deprived areas with those who lived in the 30% least deprived areas and shared similar demographic background and socio-economic characteristics. The level of area deprivation was derived from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), which measures the relative deprivation for small areas based on seven domains (e.g. crime and employment). Three different types of arts and cultural engagement were explored: arts activities (e.g. dancing), cultural events attendance (e.g. exhibition), and museums and heritages visits.

Results The results show that people who lived in the most deprived area were less likely to participate in arts activities (ATT=-0.42, 95%CI=-0.55,-0.29, p<0.001), attend cultural events (ATT=-0.36, 95%CI=-0.46,-0.27, p<0.001) or visit museums and heritage sites (ATT=-0.39, 95%CI=-0.49,-0.29, p<0.001). Sensitivity analyses testing on different sub-samples yield similar results. This indicates that our model successfully predicts low engagement in arts activities, cultural events and museums and heritage sites amongst those who lived in a deprived area across various populations.

Conclusion This study show that people who live in the most deprived area are less likely to participate in arts activities, attend cultural events or visit museums and heritage sites, independent of identified demographic and socio-economic characteristics. Our findings suggest that addressing potential structural or neighbourhood factors may help increase individual motivation and capacity to engage in cultural activities.

  • Area deprivation
  • arts engagement
  • propensity score matching

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