It seems to be a generally held belief that the people who learn to play piano or attend dance classes or paint in oils or watercolours are the well-off, higher-earning part of society (the 'posh' ones). Well, Oxford University's Aaron Reeves has published a study which suggests wealth and social status actually have nothing to do with participation in the arts and that the only thing that matters is education. Reeves writes “it is educational attainment alone, and not social status, that is shaping the probability of being an arts participant.” According to the study, people with degrees are four times more likely to have painted, or learned to play a musical instrument, and five times more likely to dance or participate in crafts. The reasons for this aren't clear but it is possible that higher education sites, colleges and universities, act as catalysts for 'cultural activity'.
This study wasn't some quick glance at the issue either. It collated information from the 78,000 participants of the 'Taking Part' survey in the UK. Reeves compared data on many factors including levels of art-creation, attendance at art events, age, gender, education and income. He listed correlations between social status, class, education, arts participation & consumption. Unlike many previous studies he also distinguished between arts-participation (painting a picture) and arts-consumption (visiting an art gallery). Publishing his findings in Sociology; “Neither Class nor Status: Arts Participation and the Social Strata,” Reeves found that people who earned over £30,000 per year were less likely to spend free time in 'creative pursuits'. The same applies to people with jobs of high social standing such as business leaders. Presumably these people have much busier lives and can afford to indulge in the creative pursuits of others (perhaps I should aim my works at the high-earners?). The obvious thing to take from this research is that education, once again, is the defining factor in our cultural heritage. Education is what gives us a fully rounded society, filled with creative, fulfilled people.
So, here's my rallying cry - "Learn - Create - Share - Teach"
* Learn; about the things you love and use that learning to germinate passion.
* Create; something which will enhance your life and perhaps the lives of others.
* Share what you make with people you love.
* Teach: others to do what you do so that everyone has a chance to feel as passionate as you.
It's a simple message. Spread it about!