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Publication Detail
What barriers do people experience to engaging in the arts? Structural equation modelling of the relationship between individual characteristics and capabilities, opportunities, and motivations to engage.
OBJECTIVES: Participation in the arts has well-documented benefits for health. However, participation in the arts is socially patterned, and it remains unclear why this is: what factors act as barriers or enablers of individual arts engagement. Therefore this study explored how individual characteristics predict individuals' capabilities, opportunities and motivations to engage in participatory arts activities. METHODS: We analysed data from 6,867 adults in the UK (61.2% female, average age 46.7 years) who engage infrequently in performing arts, visual arts, design and crafts, literature-related activities, or online, digital and electronic arts. We constructed a structural equation model to explore the relationship between demographic factors (including age, sex, ethnicity or socio-economic status), health factors (including physical and mental health) or social factors (including living alone, urban density, loneliness or socialising) and perceived barriers to arts engagement. RESULTS: Individuals with poorer physical and mental health experienced more barriers affecting their perceived capabilities to engage in the arts, whilst individuals with poorer mental health also described experiencing more barriers affecting their motivations to engage. Individuals of lower SES reported more barriers in terms of opportunities to engage, whilst loneliness was related to more barriers around opportunities and motivations and living alone was associated with more opportunity barriers. Interestingly, adults who were older experienced fewer barriers relating to capabilities or opportunities, as did men, whilst being of white ethnicity was associated with fewer barriers across all three domains. Adults who were more socially engaged or who had poorer physical health experienced fewer barriers relating to motivations. Geographical area of dwelling was not related to any barriers. CONCLUSIONS: This study has shown for the first time where the barriers leading to differential patterns of arts engagement lie. The findings could inform future behaviour change interventions designed to encourage arts engagement amongst individuals who are least likely to engage.
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