Cultural participation is the ultimate expression of access to culture. It is a human right enshrined in Article 27 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as such creates an obligation for its protection and promotion. The presence of multiple and varied cultural opportunities for citizens corresponds with a healthy society, encouraging social engagement and inclusion, bolstering solidarity and mutual understanding and facilitating the development of the creative skills required to thrive in a fast-changing world.
Around two-thirds of Europeans are demonstrably interested and participate in cultural activities. Although a significant figure, it also highlights the need to break down barriers and ensure that access to culture is maximised, particularly for those who are disengaged. Hence, it is important to recognise the variety of barriers that prevent diverse people from participating in culture.
The main reason cited for not participating in cultural activities is lack of interest linked to educational attainment, given education’s core effect in cultural participation. Other reasons include lack of time, financial means, information and choice. Eurobarometer surveys show an imbalance in access to culture across Europe. Consequently, new policy approaches should be developed on the basis of mounting evidence pointing to critical gaps limiting participation.
Culture Action Europe contributed to the ongoing own initiative report on Structural and Financial Barriers to Access to Culture. Please see below the reflection paper and background note that were developed to this effect.