Non-believers and the arts

This is the first of a number of postings about the cultural particpation of non-belivers in the UK, based on the Governement’s Taking Part survey (2005/6 results).

Art is often described as one of the great contributions that religions have given to the world, and is even used as a proof of God. It’s certainly impossible to deny the strong link between art and religion. But art galleries have also been describes as secular cathederals and temples.

So are in modern day Britain, is there any difference in how religious and non-religious people engage with the arts?

Arts attendance

The survey looks at whether people have attended any of the following arts events in the last 12 months:

  1. Exhibition of art, photography or sculpture
  2. Craft exhibition
  3. Video or electronic art event
  4. Event connected with books or writing
  5. Street arts
  6. Carnival
  7. Culturally specific festival
  8. Play or drama
  9. Theatre performance (excluding plays or drama)
  10. Opera or operetta
  11. Classical music performance
  12. Jazz performance
  13. Live music event (excluding jazz or classical)
  14. Ballet
  15. Contemporary dance
  16. African people’s dance or South Asian and Chinese dance
  17. Other live dance event

Arts attendance

Adults who reported their religion as Muslim had significantly lower rates of attendance than all of the remaining groups, presumably because of the traditional restrictions on many art forms (but possibly also due to socio-economic factors).

Adults who reported their religion as Other had significantly higher rates of attendance than those who reported their religion as Christian or Hindu, or reported to have no religion.

The type of arts attended by each group are not gone into so it’s difficult to say how much of these are religiously-specific experiences (e.g. Sikh Kirtans).

Arts participation

The survey also looks at whether people have taken part in any of the following arts events:

  1. Ballet
  2. Dance (not for fitness) (excluding Ballet)
  3. Singing to an audience
  4. Playing a musical instrument to an audience
  5. Playing a musical instrument for pleasure
  6. Writing music
  7. Rehearsing or performing in a play or drama
  8. Rehearsing or performing in an opera
  9. Painting, drawing, printmaking or sculpture
  10. Photography as an artistic activity
  11. Making films or videos as an artistic activity
  12. Creating original artworks using a computer
  13. Textile crafts
  14. Wood crafts
  15. Crafts (excluding textile and wood crafts)
  16. Bought any original works of art for yourself
  17. Bought any original/handmade crafts such as pottery or jewellery for yourself
  18. Writing stories or plays
  19. Writing poetry

 Arts Part

Adults who reported to have no religion had significantly higher rates of participation than those who reported their religion as Christian, Hindu or Sikh.

Adults who reported their religion as Muslim had significantly lower rates of participation than all of the remaining groups, expect for those who reported their religion as Hindu or Sikh.

Adults who reported their religion as Buddhist had significantly higher rates of participation than all of the remaining groups, expect for those who reported their religion as Other.

Adults who reported their religion as Other had significantly higher rates ofparticipation than all of the remaining groups, except for those who reported their religion as Buddhist.

Adults who reported their religion as Christian had significantly higher rates of participation than those who reported their religion as Hindu.

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3 responses to “Non-believers and the arts

  1. Pingback: German Cardinal uses Nazi term to describe atheist art « The O Project

  2. The survey is interesting, but perhaps not especially interesting with regard to those of “no religion”? No religion seems to be about the average in both of the results. (The really significant results seem to be: that those of “other religions” both partake and create more in the arts; that Muslims partake less; and that Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs create less.)

  3. Indeed, ‘no-religion’ is about as meaningless as the category ‘Christian’ since it is so big and diverse. As I say, I think it would be interesting to see whether the differences were because of religion (almost certainly a big part when it comes to Muslims) or socio-economic.

    Anyway I like research and graphs so I thought I’d share!

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