Most Ontarians Believe Arts are Important to Quality of Life Says Survey

Toronto, October 20, 2010 – The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has released the findings of The Arts And The Quality Of Life: The Attitudes Of Ontarians, a commissioned survey conducted by Environics Research Group.  

The findings show that a large majority of Ontarians, believe that the arts are important to the quality of life in their community and to their own personal lives. The research also demonstrated how strongly these positive attitudes are held by Ontarians.

Key findings:

  • 95 percent of Ontarians said that the arts enrich the quality of our lives;
  • 89 percent  believe that if their community lost its arts activities, people living there would lose something of value;
  • 81 percent of Ontarians think that the arts are important to their own quality of life
  • 95 percent of Ontarians believe that the success of Canadian artists like singers, writers, actors and painters, gives people a sense of pride in Canadian achievement;
  • 81 percent of Ontarians agree that the government should spend public dollars to support the arts.

This is the first provincial survey of its kind since 1994, when a similar survey was commissioned by OAC.  A comparison of responses across questions asked in both surveys found that the proportion of Ontarians with positive views on the arts and the quality of life has generally increased since 1994.  For example, the proportion of Ontarians who would miss the arts very much if they were not available in their community has increased by 6 percent since 1994.

The arts as a public good

The survey findings show that Ontarians believe that the benefits of the arts extend to the community as a whole.  A large majority of Ontarians (64 percent) believe that the presence of arts in a community are more beneficial to the community as whole, rather than just those who attend arts activities.

Further, the findings indicate that, even if the arts are not personally important to an individual, there is agreement that the arts are important to their community.  For example, of Ontarians who say that the arts are only somewhat or not at all important to their own quality of life, a majority agrees that arts activities help enrich the quality of our lives.

The arts as an indicator of civic-mindedness

Ontarians were also asked about the importance of other aspects of community life – including parks and green spaces, sports and recreational facilities, and public transit – to the quality of life in their community.  In terms of overall importance to community quality of life, arts facilities are seen as on par with public transit (rated as important by 91 percent of Ontarians) but are seen as somewhat less important overall than parks and green spaces, and sports and recreational facilities (rated as important by 99 percent and 97 percent of Ontarians respectively).

It’s interesting to note, however, that the Ontarians who value and participate in the arts are more likely than other Ontarians to value highly these other aspects of community life.  This finding appears to support other research on the social impact of the arts which has found a correlation between arts participation and other indicators of social engagement/civic-mindedness (for example, volunteering, voting, “neighbourliness”, sense of belonging, sports participation, etc.).

Positive attitudes toward the arts across all regions and demographic groups

The survey also shows that a majority of Ontarians across all regions and demographic groups hold positive attitudes about the arts and the quality of personal and community lives. For example, large majorities of Ontarians living in each region of the province, and across all levels of education, agree that the arts are important to the quality of their own lives.

The  responses were analyzed based on demographic and geographic variables including education, gender, age, family income, employment status, children in household, language (mother tongue), region and community size.  

The report was based on the results of an omnibus survey conducted by Environics Research Group on behalf of the Ontarian Arts Council.  The survey was conducted by telephone between February 22 and 28, and March 4 and 10, 2010.  It examines the opinions of a probability sample of 1,000 adult residents of Ontario (aged 18 or older). The sample, which was stratified by gender, region and community size, is estimated to be accurate within approximately 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


Read the Executive Summary and the full Environics report.

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