Maltese youths least likely to attend theatre or dance

A Europe-wide survey among young people aged 15 to 30 found that 62% of Estonians have been to theatre, opera or dance performances, but only 26% of their Maltese peers did so.

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James Debono
28 April 2015, 8:23am
Theatre, dance or opera are just not in the mindset of young people in Malta who are, in fact, the least likely in Europe to have been to such an activity in the past 12 months.

That is in comparison with their Estonian counterparts, found to be the most likely to have been to such an activity in the same period.

This emerges from a Europe-wide survey among young people aged 15 to 30, which found that 62% of Estonians have been to theatre, opera or dance performances, but only 26% of their Maltese peers did so.

38% of respondents in all 28 EU member states have been to theatre, dance or opera performances.

The survey shows that in the past year, 67% of the Maltese have been to the cinema or a concert, 43% have visited historical monuments and museums and 22% have participated in an amateur artistic activity, such as playing a musical instrument or singing.

21% of Maltese young people (compared to just 11% of all Europeans) have not attended any cultural activity.

A visit to the cinema or a concert is the most popular cultural activity in every European country, with the highest proportions seen in Denmark (89%), and Sweden and the Netherlands (both 87%).

The survey also registers a sharp 11-point drop in Malta in the percentage of young people who have attended activities organised by political parties in the past year. The percentage has fallen from 14% in 2013 to just 11% in 2014. Back in 2013 – which coincided with general elections – the Maltese were the most likely to participate in political activities.

The survey shows that 28% of Maltese youths have attended activities organised by sports clubs, up from 25% in 2013.

The survey also showed that 82% of Maltese young people are confident of finding a job after completing their education. This compares well with the 74% of respondents in all EU member states.

Only 23% of Maltese (compared to 31%) were concerned of not finding a stable job with a long-term contract. On the other hand 24% of Maltese young people are concerned about not receiving an adequate salary. This is more than double the percentage of respondents from all EU member states who express this concern.

The promise is in the next generation

Simone Inguanez: Diversity and Communities Associate within the Arts Council

Arts Council Malta acknowledges the challenge of youth participation, engagement and audiences. That is why we have been taking an ‘aggressive’ approach in this regard. There are a number of challenges in engaging young people in cultural and artistic activities.

My post as a Diversity and Communities Associate is one of the clear actions taken in the remit of youth culture. This post was set up as part of the Arts Council’s restructuring, which will also involve the creation of a 2016-2020 strategy. One of the main areas of focus of this strategy will be youth culture. This emphasis also runs through the funds managed by ACM, such as Creative Communities, Kreattiv and the Premju tal-President gћall-Kreattività, all of which have a strong youth component.

Other initiatives have also been taken by other entities such as Aġenzija Żgћażagћ. And recent years have seen the sprouting of initiatives fostering youth participation and audiences such as TMYT, Malta Youth Orchestra, Studio 18 and Toi Toi. ŻiguŻajg, the Arts Festival for Children and Young People, is growing larger every year and always plays to full houses.

The picture would not be complete, however, without mentioning that locally there is a strong youth participation in cultural activities which are not measured on a European level, such as band clubs and community arts.

And while the Culture Participation  Survey 2011 shows that the lowest participation in the arts is in the 16-24 category, it also shows that people in this category tend to be very active in cultural participation; that is, there are several repeat visits. And only around eight per cent of the people in this category have never attended any form of cultural event.

Ultimately, much depends on education. That is why Arts Council Malta is working hand in hand with the Ministry of Education to change the curriculum to open it up to the arts. The truth is that projects for children and young people will take a generation to mature so we expect to start seeing results in the coming years.

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James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...