Malta registers second-lowest level of cultural participation

According to a Eurobarometer survey, Malta is second only to Bulgaria on cultural participation.

Malta is set to become European Capital for Culture in 2018.
Malta is set to become European Capital for Culture in 2018.

In what is a generally pessimistic survey regarding the levels of cultural participation across the European continent, a Eurobarometer survey has revealed that Maltese cultural participation registers at a meagre 18% - just four percentage points above the first in line, Bulgaria.

Although significant differences between member states emerge from the survey, the overall picture suggests that fewer Europeans are engaging in cultural activities - either as active participants or 'passive' observers.

Malta also scored dismally on the public performance front, with 49% saying they didn't attend concerts due to a lack of interest, while 54% claimed they didn't go to the theatre for the same reason.

Only 38% actively took part in a cultural activity, such as singing, dancing or photography, in the past year. In terms of 'passive' participation, the number describing their cultural engagement as high or very high is down to 18%, compared with 21% in 2007. The decline in participation has affected all cultural activities except cinema, with 52% saying they went to the movies in the past year (+1%).

The highest levels of active participation are in Denmark (74% have participated actively in at least one cultural activity in the past year), Sweden (68%), Finland (63%) and the Netherlands (58%). The lowest levels of active participation are in Bulgaria (14%), Malta (18%), Italy (20%) and Hungary (21%). Only 12% of EU respondents were involved in photography or in making a film, compared with 27% in the previous survey, while 13% say they danced (19% last time) and 11% sang (15% in 2007).

The main reasons cited for not engaging in culture are lack of time (44% give this reason for not reading a book), lack of interest (50% say this is why they have not seen a ballet, dance performance or opera), lack of money (25% give this reason for not attending a concert), and lack of choice (10% on average). The survey showed that over half of Europeans use the internet for cultural purposes, with nearly a third doing so at least once a week.

"Culture is a source of personal fulfilment, creativity and joy. I am concerned that fewer EU citizens are involved in cultural activities, as performers, producers or consumers. This survey shows that governments need to re-think how they support culture to stimulate public participation and culture's potential as an engine for jobs and growth.

"The cultural and creative sectors also need to adapt to reach new audiences and explore new funding models. The Commission will continue to support cultural access and participation through our new Creative Europe programme and other EU funding sources," stated Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

The survey also showed that over half of Europeans use the internet for cultural purposes. The most popular uses are reading newspaper articles (53%), searching for cultural information (44%) and listening to the radio or music via the internet (42%). Respondents from northern countries are more likely to use the internet for cultural purposes than those from southern and central-eastern European countries.


How is a 'cultural activity' defined in this survey? Does it include participation in carnival, village festas, Notte Bianca, Birgufest, re-enactments, religious activities and processions, festivals - like the festival in Zejtun, or the Mgarr one, the Mnarja, open days at museums. All of these activities tend to be packed and very much alive. It all depends on how you define 'cultural'. I think we Maltese have a very rich culture - it is so much a part of our lives that may be we don't see it as something to point out if we are asked specifically about it.