Study on the use of culture in berlin: a look in front of the stage

Cinema is the most popular cultural offering for Berliners, while classical concerts are in danger of losing their audience. That’s what a new study shows.

Who is sitting in these chairs? And who is not? View into the audience area of the BE Photo: dpa

There would certainly have been better times for Klaus Lederer (Left Party) to present a study on "cultural participation" than this Monday. After all, the senator for culture never tires of emphasizing that culture has been one of the hardest hit by the effects of the Corona crisis and will continue to depend on appropriate support. At the moment, the question is not so much who is taking advantage of the cultural offerings in Berlin and who is not, but rather which cultural offerings are available at all, and if so, in what form.

But since, according to Lederer, there have hardly been any studies of this kind to date, and since it is to be repeated every two years in the future, it is worth taking a cautious look at the study, which was prepared by an institute of the public-law "Foundation for Cultural Continuing Education and Cultural Consulting. Cautious, among other things, because so far only part of the results are known; according to Lederer, the rest will follow in winter at the latest.

What’s new about the study is that it not only looked at visitors to cultural offerings, but also examined the cultural use of Berlin’s population, i.e. it also surveyed those people who had not been to the cinema, the theater, a reading, a pop concert, the opera, an exhibition or even the zoo and animal park in the last twelve months.

If we include the latter two destinations and classify them as culture – which, according to the study’s director Vera Allmannritter, is quite common in Great Britain, for example – then the study comes to the brilliant conclusion that only seven percent of Berliners have not taken advantage of any such offer. Conversely, this means that local city dwellers are real culture fans. If you exclude the zoo, the figure is still 73 percent.

Once a month to the museum for free? The campaign Sunday is not to come until next year.

Not surprisingly, the cinema leads the ranking: More than 80 percent have sat in front of the big screen at least once in the past twelve months, and a good half at least four times. This is followed by zoos, which 64 percent of respondents have visited at least once; rock, pop and other pop culture concerts with 55 percent and exhibitions with just under 50 percent. Around 3,400 people responded to the written survey, which was conducted between June and October 2019.

At the bottom of the list are experimental music (20 percent with at least one visit), literature readings (25 percent), but also the group from opera, ballet and dance theater (30 percent) and classical music (35 percent). According to the study, the latter concerts are even threatened by the disappearance of the audience: the proportion of spectators over 60 is almost twice as high as that between . "This could become a problem," said Vera Allmanritter. In exhibitions or even theater, the age groups are reasonably evenly distributed. The cinema, on the other hand, tends to be attended by younger people and the large group between .

Those who had not recently taken advantage of traditional cultural offerings cited a lack of money and expensive admission prices as the main reasons, or that too few offerings interested them or that they had to be in the immediate vicinity.

The diversity of Berlin mapped?

Infographic: Infotext

It is his goal that as many people as possible can enjoy culture, Lederer emphasized on Monday. The results of the survey would be helpful for him and the respective institutions to see whether all those people are reached who one wants to reach, and whether it succeeds in representing "the diversity of Berliners" within the visitors.

The one Sunday per month with free admission to museums that was planned for this reason, among others, was postponed until next year because of Corona, said Lederer, but at the same time emphasized: "Even free of charge, a part of the population simply doesn’t go there." He therefore called for more efforts by education administrations to offer musical and artistic education in daycare centers and schools. After all, anyone who is not introduced to art and culture at a young age will not be seen in museums or concerts later on.

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