Who Visits Classical Music Performances and Exhibitions?

Seminar Paper 2012 20 Pages

Business economics - Economic Policy


Table of Contents


2.1 Data and Variable Motivation
2.2 Hypotheses on the Sign of Variables

3.1 Model and Data
3.2 Discussion of estimation procedure





7.1 Appendix I: Variable creation and Merging

1. Introduction

Classical music performances such as opera and theatres, but also exhibitions are nowadays often considered as a dying form of art or entertainment - only able to survive due to heavy subsidies by federal and state governments1. Without those the existence of theatres seems to be impossible in our society. Thus, the cultural sector in Germany was funded with around 8 Billon € in 2005/20062. With more than a few thousand theatres3 in Germany it comes as no surprise that this country has one of the highest per capita theatre densities in the world4.

Therefore the question arises - as always when governments spend public money - who benefits from those subsidies and who attends theatre performances? Many economists argue that subsidising the performing arts is merely a result of rent-seeking special interest groups. Another argument goes that the distribution of the consumers of those subsidised arts is skewed towards high-income groups - and why should a government tax low-income groups to decrease the price of theatre tickets if only high-income groups of people attend5.

It is astonishing that there is no single overarching study that evaluates not only the effects or the quality and efficiency of the theatres in Germany but also no cohesive evaluation of classical performance audiences, especially of theatres. On the contrary: those cultural institutions have no liability or responsibility to evaluate6.

Thus the aim of this paper is to describe the visitors of classical music performances and exhibitions such as theatres and to have a closer look at their socioeconomic scattering. Answers to this question could have vast impacts on policy decisions for the distribution of cultural subsidies. For example in which ways people could be encouraged to visit plays more often or if a reduction in subsidies would have little impact on the willingness of people to attend. First of all however variables that might influence the behaviour of people to attend theatre performances have to be identified. Afterwards a linear probability model is set up. Subsequently the model and its outcomes are discussed as well as possible consequential policy implications.

2. Conceptual Framework

2.1 Data and Variable Motivation

In order to have a representative sample to conduct this research the ALLBUS from the GESIS seems to be a reasonable source for information. It is not only conducted annually and open source material for academic purposes, but contains a variety of respondents through most socioeconomic classes7 and questions to a majority of issues.

Nevertheless, this survey is not without its flaws. A major point of criticism can be seen in its inconsistency of variables over the annual surveys. Since most of the relevant questions were not asked in subsequent studies, it was impossible to incorporate samples from different years. For example "how many children do you have” was not part of the questionnaire in 2004. Though in this survey the essential question "Leisure: attend opera, classical theatre, exhibitions” was asked - which on the other hand was not part of surveys in other years. The positive side effect in using only data from 2004 is that inflation and other trans-annual effects do not have to be taken into consideration, which makes the data evaluation easier.

The variables for this paper were chosen via different methods. Unfortunately, the process was strongly restricted by the data available. The aim was to integrate social and economic variables since both should influence theatre attendance. Age, Sex and BMI were chosen as an indication for a person’s appearance and seem likely to explain some of the variation. But it seems even more probable that the financial situation (income, vocational degree, employment status) and the social status (also marital status) play a significant role. The ALLBUS also asked people about their place of residence, which could have an influence as well. Thus living in the former eastern or western part of Germany was added to the variables as well as the influence of Citizenship - two possible points of interest that would have otherwise not found their way into the equation. Additionally, other studies showed that not only the already included variables might have an influence on theatre attendance but also participation in theatre activities. Since there was no equal variable to be found in the ALLBUS the influence of a TV interest in arts and culture was added8.

2.2 Hypotheses on the Sign of Variables

Before estimating a proper model it appears to be of use to have a closer look at the initial independent variables and their possible effects on the dependent one.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 1: Body Mass Index, Age and Net Income Statistics

Unfortunately the data, as seen in the statistic for Age above, surveyed only people from 18 years onwards. This makes statements about childhood influences almost impossible. The youngest person was 18 years old at the date of the interview while the oldest respondent was 91. The older a person is the more likely it seems that she already had a lot of experience with classical performances and is therefore more likely to attend theatre and exhibitions. A contributing factor might also be a set work schedule and therefore set free periods, which is not the rule in university. University students often work in the evening for example in libraries, which are the most common times for theatre plays to take place. Money issues might play a part as well. Net Income then has probably a positive effect on the dependent variable: a higher income frees up larger amounts for leisure activities. People with high incomes are generally expected to use a larger proportion of their money for cultural activities9. This should hold true for Financial Situation as well. If one believes she is in a very good financial state she would spend more money on leisure activities - even if objectively, or compared to a mean income, the person is below this standard. Another variable that indicates the economic situation of a person is her degree and following it her employment status. Hence, a University Degree and Employment should also have positive effects on theatre attendance. A University degree indicates also that a person could have come into contact with theatre during her studies with other students from arts and culture classes. This seems more likely than during an apprenticeship.

The variables Sex10 and Marital Status of a respondent should however have no great effect. There appears to be no reason why being married, or female instead of male should influence ones behaviour to attend performances. The same should apply to the difference between West and East. Although the income level is generally considered to be slightly higher in the former western part of the country, theatres and cultural events take place in both parts almost equally, while a variety are found in larger cities.

As indicated by other studies, participating in performing arts themselves, people are more likely to attend classical theatre performances later in life11. Deducting that a general interest in the arts and culture increases the actual attendance seems logical. If the variable TV Interest: Arts and Culture is answered with "yes” it should be significant of positively influencing the dependent variable.

Cultural activities such as exhibitions and theatre are still widely considered a high-class activity and enjoy high social esteem. It should not be surprising then that if a person considers herself as belonging to a high Social Status she is more likely to attend performances to identify with her position. Alongside this argument goes the last ratio scale variable in the model: the Body Mass Index (BMI). At first glance this sounds like an insignificant variable. But especially for high values, in the survey a BMI of 54,50 was the maximum, could have implications on the attendance. A very high BMI often indicates a medical condition such as obesity. This might prevent people from actively participating in social events for physical or psychological reasons.

German Citizenship can be interpreted in many ways. It could indicate that the person can understand the German language quite well and speak fluently - if a person cannot follow a performance why should she trouble herself with attending at all. It might also show a non­immigrant background and a culture that is consistent with the prevalent one in Germany. This should increase the likelihood of participating in the familiar traditions (attending exhibitions and classical theatre) - if ones culture suggests other activities and forms of cultural events one would be more likely to attend those. Another part of this variable could be amenities that come with a German citizenship. Theatre tickets are cheaper if you belong to special groups, like student or elderly. If one does not posses the German citizenship though it could be harder to redeem those benefits. And since a ticket becomes more expensive one might turn to other leisure activities. All over therefore, a German citizenship should have a positive effect on theatre attendance.


1 bpb Online.

2 Kulturstatistiken (2008), p. 38.

3 Theaterstatistik 2008/2009, p. 5.

4 G. Birnkraut (2011), p. 32.

5 L. Dobson (1990), without page numbers.

6 G. Birnkraut (2011), p. 32, 33.

7 Leibnitz Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, GESIS.

8 L. Dobson (1990), no page numbers.

9 L. Dobson (1990), without page numbers.

10 The term Sex is used to express the biologically defined sex, instead of Gender, which is socially constructed. This is supposedly what the survey had in mind as well since it had only „male“ and „female“ as options available. For further reading on this controversy see also: A. Fausto-Sterling (2000).

11 L. Dobson (1990), no page numbers.


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Martin Luther University – Lehrstuhl für Ökonometrie
visits classical music performances exhibitions




Title: Who Visits Classical Music Performances and Exhibitions?