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FEATURE ARTICLE 2: CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION IN SELECTED ORGANISED CULTURAL ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL HOURS OVER TIME
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in the 12 months to April 2006 it is estimated that outside of school hours:
In 2000, 2003 and 2006, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducted the Survey of Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities. This survey collects information on participation in selected organised cultural and leisure activities and attendance at selected cultural venues and events outside of school hours by children aged 5 to 14 years. Information on activities undertaken during school hours is not collected. This article focuses on the data collected on children's participation in four selected cultural activities: playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing and drama. Some data about attendance at cultural venues and events and participation in organised sport activities collected as part of the same survey is also included for comparative purposes.
All dates referred to in this article relate to the 12 months to April of the survey year.
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In 2006 around one third (33%) of children aged 5-14 years were involved in at least one of the four selected cultural activities outside of school hours. By comparison, almost twice as many children (64%) participated in an organised sport and an even higher proportion (71%) attended a selected cultural venue (public library, museum, art gallery) or event (performing arts event). Children who participated in a cultural activity were also more likely to participate in an organised sport, or attend a cultural venue or event. Of the 869,600 children who participated in cultural activities, 70% also played an organised sport and 82% also attended a cultural venue or event. By contrast, of the 1,795,000 children who did not participate in cultural activities, 60% played an organised sport and 65% attended a cultural venue or event.
Playing a musical instrument was the most popular of the selected cultural activities, with 20% of children participating in this activity. A further 13% of children participated in dancing, 6% in singing and 5% in drama. In addition to being the most popular activity, children who played a musical instrument participated twice as often and spent a greater amount of time participating. For example, in 2006 children reported on average playing a musical instrument 103 times in the previous 12 months compared with participating 54 times in dancing, 34 times in singing and 22 times in drama.
Of the four cultural activities, playing a musical instrument was consistently the most popular activity reported in 2000, 2003 and 2006. Dancing showed the greatest increase in involvement from 10% in 2000 to 13% in 2006. This was largely due to an increase in girls' participation in dancing over the six year period.
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CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURAL PARTICIPANTS
In 2006, girls (44%) were twice as likely as boys (22%) to participate in at least one of the selected cultural activities in their non-school hours. Similar differences were also reported in 2000 and 2003. This was largely attributable to the significantly higher proportion of girls participating in dancing activities. In 2006, 23% of girls aged 5 to 14 years participated in dancing compared with only 2% of boys.
A comparison of the data from 2000 and 2006 shows an increase in participation in the selected cultural activities for both boys and girls. This is despite a decline in boys participation in 2003.
Whilst participation in selected cultural activities was significantly more popular among girls than boys, boys were more likely to participate in sport activities. In 2006,69% of boys participated in organised sport activities compared with 58% of girls.
Between 2000 and 2006, children's participation in cultural activities and organised sport activities increased from 29% to 33% and 59% to 64% respectively. Whilst the increased sport participation rate was the result of increased overall involvement by both girls and boys, the increased culture participation rate was largely due to an increase in boy's participation (from 17% to 22%) between 2003 and 2006, particularly in playing a musical instrument (from 13% to 18%).
In 2006, participation in cultural activities increased with age, peaking at 39% for those aged 10 years and then dropping to 34% for those aged 14 years. The pattern for playing a musical instrument was similar, with participation rates increasing noticeably from 4% for children aged 5 years to 22% for children aged 8 years. Participation in singing and drama were far more consistent; rates increasing only marginally with age. In contrast, dancing peaked at 18% for children aged 6 years and tended to be less popular with age.
In 2006, children's participation in cultural activities was highest among 9-11 year olds at 38%. Approximately one quarter (26%) of all children aged 5-8 years and one third (38% and 36% respectively) of all children aged 9-11 and 12-14 years participated in at least one of the selected cultural activities in the 12 months prior to survey. Whilst the participation rate of children aged 5-8 years remained relatively unchanged between 2000 and 2006, those aged 9-11 and 12-14 years both reported significant increases (from 34% to 38% and 32% to 36% respectively).
In comparison, children's participation in organised sport activities was highest among those aged 9-11 years (70%).
State or territory of residence
Of all the states and territories, children in the Australian Capital Territory had the highest participation rate in at least one selected cultural activity outside of school hours in 2000 and 2006 (34% in 2000 and 38% in 2006). All states and territories, excluding South Australia, showed an increase in children's participation during the same period.
Children living in couple families were more likely to participate in cultural activities than children living in single parent families. In 2006, approximately 35% of children living in couple families participated in at least one cultural activity compared with 24% of children living in single parent families.
The participation rate for children living in couple families has also increased over time. Between 2000 and 2006 the proportion of children living in couple families participating in cultural activities increased from 31% to 35% compared with no change for children living in single parent families (24%).
Similarly, a significantly greater proportion of children living in couple families participated in organised sport activities (65%) compared with children living in single parent families (56%).
Country of birth
In 2006, children born overseas in main English-speaking countries (the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, the United States of America and New Zealand) were more likely to participate in cultural activities (35%) than children born in Australia (33%) and other countries (26%). Further, participation was highest among children whose parent(s) were born overseas in main English-speaking countries compared with children whose parents were born in Australia or other countries. Similar findings were reported in 2000. The proportion of children born in Australia participating in cultural activities increased from 29% in 2000 to 33% in 2006.
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