Arts and culture in figures

Arts and culture have an impact and that is reflected in the research and the figures that are published across the various professional fields. Collect data which you can use to substantiate your story.

What do you use data for?

Figures about the arts and culture sector provide insight into the size of the professional group or field. That says something about the importance thereof. You can also examine this per field: for example, how many shows take place each year, how many architects are there or how many visitors do museums attract?

Pay careful attention to the context when using statistical data. For example, look at the scale: are you talking about impact at the level of a neighbourhood, town or city, region, nationally or internationally? From the Dutch perspective, it is relevant to know that approx. 410,000 people work in the cultural and media sector and that the share of total jobs is approx. 4.3%.

You can use research to elucidate the impact of your own work or field. Place figures in perspective by making a comparison, for example, with an average figure and substantiate your own story in that way.

Data and current affairs

When comparing data, it is also important to place new developments in that period in a broad perspective. For example, since the corona pandemic, we have seen a significant drop in visitor numbers in the performing arts, museums and cinemas. The financial arrangements designed to maintain employment during the lockdowns and restrictive measures have failed to prevent a fall in income and employment.

There have also been successful initiatives to reach audiences online. In most cases, this did not outweigh the loss of income from physical visits. The figures for 2020 and 2021, and probably also 2022, cannot be compared with those of the years before without that context. At the same time, more attention was paid to sustainability and climate issues during this period. This ensures that the architectural sector actually sees their work increase.

Where can you find statistical data?

You will find quantitative data and qualitative and thematic analyses about the Dutch cultural sector in the Cultuurmonitor (Cultural Monitor) of the Boekman Foundation. You can also turn to this for figures about the various professional fields In addition, the Dutch Chamber of Commerce provides figures about the number of employees, self-employed professionals and institutions in the various occupational groups, including the ‘culture and sport’ industry. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and municipalities present statistical data.

Via representative bodies
In order to be able to properly support the interests of a specific field and their own members, representative bodies often conduct research themselves too, for example by questioning their own members or supporters about specific themes. This information is usually presented publicly too. There are various national professional organisations that make an important contribution in this way towards promoting the interests of their own professional group and towards arts advocacy in general. You can also take advantage of these figures in order to substantiate your own story.

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Representative bodies

In 2020, more than 20,000 fewer music performances have been programmed by VNPF stages. That is a decrease of 76% compared to 2019. At the VNPF festivals, the decrease in performances was even 87%. There were also relatively fewer performances by foreign artists in 2020. (VNPF, 2021)

In 2020, a total of 1,054,691 visits were made to the VNPF stages, a decrease of 80% compared to 2019. At the VNPF festivals, there were 3.2 million visits in 2019 and less than 50,000 visits in 2020, a decrease of 98%. (VNPF, 2021)

According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), 54,116 shows in the performing arts took place in 2019, of which there were 11,278 theatre shows, 19,878 music performances, 2,482 dance performances, 6,414 musical theatre shows, 8,584 Dutch cabaret shows and 5,479 other shows. (CBS, 2020)

In 2019, pop venues organised 18,093 activities. 66% were musical activities, such as live concerts and club evenings. In total, 28,862 shows were given. The majority of the acts were Dutch. In 2019, almost 5.5 million people visited the live music venues. 88% of the audience visited a music programme. More than 84% of the visitors paid for admission. (VNPF, 2020)

In 2019, live music venues had 8,596 employees and 43% of these employees were paid. This concerned staff under contract (19%), payroll employees and temporary workers (10%) and freelancers (13%). 54% were volunteers and 4% were interns. Volunteers work less hours on average than paid staff. 74% of all working hours (FTE) were paid. (VNPF, 2020)

Despite the growth in the offer of live pop music on Dutch stages and festivals (+57%), the offer has hardly become more diverse between 2008 and 2019, in terms of gender and origin of the performing artists. Four out of five performing artists are male and more than four out of five performances are performed by artists from three countries: the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the field of gender, there has been a slight difference since 2017; the share of female artists has gradually increased since then. (Poplive, 2022)

Source: VNPF (Association of Dutch Music Venues and Festivals)
Source: CBS
Source: Cultuurmonitor - Muziek (Cultural Monitor - Music)
Source: Poplive monitor

The figures from the CBS are based on figures from the VSCD, VNPF and their own survey. Festivals are not included in the CBS data.