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Study discovers the cultural tastes of modern Australians

Study discovers the cultural tastes of modern Australians
September 25, 2016

A landmark survey from Western Sydney University has uncovered significant divides in the cultural tastes of Australians, with class, level of education, age, and ethnic heritage the key drivers behind Australians' cultural preferences.

The Australian Research Council-funded study surveyed over 1,200 Australians about their cultural activities.

A paper published by the Institute for Culture and Society, Professors Tony Bennett and Modesto Gayo discuss the findings relating to the visual arts.

Who visits art museums? Who doesn't? In asking these questions, the survey also investigated and categorised the types of art people like, and their favourite Australian and international artists.

Lead investigator Professor Tony Bennett says the results shed a new light on Australians and the arts.

Professor Bennett explained "this survey provides an unprecedented level of detail about who visits different kinds of galleries, and how these patterns relate to favourite art genres and artists.

"By connecting these patterns to different social backgrounds, the survey has provided a new, detailed analysis of what divides the art tastes of contemporary Australians.'

Key findings include:

• Roughly a third of Australians have no involvement in the visual arts 
• Level of education and social class are the key factors differentiating Australians' art tastes. Tertiary educated members of the professional and middle classes are more involved in the art world, and also like different kinds of art from most other Australians 
• Men and women tend to have the same tastes, particularly where they share similar levels of education and class position. But women are significantly more likely to visit art museums and buy art books 
• Old and younger Australians have sharply divided tastes. Younger Australians prefer pop and abstract art, whereas older Australians enjoy landscapes and Renaissance works more 
• Australian Impressionists like Tom Roberts have relatively little appeal to Aboriginal and migrant Australians

Professor Bennett says the survey opens up important questions about the role of the arts in debates about increasing levels of inequality in Australia.

"It also provides gallery directors and curators with helpful information in seeking to make the arts more accessible to all Australians.”

The survey formed part of the project Australian Cultural Fields: National and Transnational Dynamics, funded by the Australian Research Council (DP140101970), and was conducted by Tony Bennett (Project Director), David Carter, Modesto Gayo, Michelle Kelly (Project Manager), Fred Myers, Greg Noble, David Rowe, Tim Rowse, Deborah Stevenson, Graeme Turner, and Emma Waterton.

Click here for more information about the Australian Cultural Fields study.

Images: Hobart's MoNA (top) and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews with Glenn D. Lowry, Director of New York’s prestigious Museum of Modern Art (below).

17th July 2016 - $10 MILLION INITIATIVE TO CHANGE THE GREENING OF PUBLIC SPACES

28th June 2016 - FREE ENTRY DRAWS CROWDS TO SYDNEY’S MUSEUMS

2nd June 2016 - MASTERPIECES FROM NEW YORK’S MOMA COMING TO NGV MELBOURNE

9th September 2015 - ALBURY MUSEUM AIMS FOR THE BILBAO EFFECT 

27th February 2015 - WESTERN SYDNEY ARTS COMMUNITY BACKS REPORT INTO ARTS AND CULTURAL FUNDING IN THE WEST

27th November 2013 - STUDY REVEALS THE IMPACT OF PUBLIC ART MUSEUMS

19th August 2013 - AUSTRALIA COUNCIL REVEALS KEY TRENDS FOR PERFORMING ARTS


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