Challenges faced by high culture to attract new audiences in the digital arena

Juan de Dios Montoro Pons, Universitat de València
Manuel Cuadrado García, Universitat de València

The generalisation of the Internet has meant an expansion, albeit marginal, of the audience interested in cultural expressions that make up so-called high culture (theatre, opera, ballet and dance, classical music). Although digital consumption enables some restrictions (mainly of an economic nature) to be eliminated, it also creates some obstacles linked to the access and use of information technologies. The new online platforms and digital media, in contrast, have substantially transformed consumption models of popular culture (pop music, cinema, etc.).
Key points
  • 1
       Participation in all high culture activities at the usual physical venues is mainly female. This tendency – with the exception of ballet – is inverted in the digital environment.
  • 2
       In both physical and digital participation an initially positive impact exists related with age (higher age means more participation) which, after reaching a maximum, starts to fall (higher age means less participation). A difference, however, can be observed in the turning point, which is higher in traditional consumption (47-49 years) than in digital consumption (29-35 years). This can point, firstly, towards a generational difference and one in consumer habits and, secondly, to the digital divide, linked to age.
  • 3
       Digital consumption could be an opportunity to increase the participation of people who have difficulties to access certain cultural contents due to their place of residence. However, the same tendency is reproduced as that observed in physical consumption: digital participation is over-represented by those who live in capitals and underrepresented by residents of smaller towns.
  • 4
       Decisions on physical or digital cultural consumption are interdependent, so individuals who participate in one sphere increase their probabilities of participating in the other.
Classification of individuals according to whether they consume high culture physically or digitally
Classification of individuals according to whether they consume high culture physically or digitally

The graph offers a moderately optimistic view of the role played by digital consumption. Thus, of the 6.2% of individuals that state that they consume high culture online, some 2.6% consume it only in this way and, therefore, they represent a new audience. The remaining 3.5% already participate physically, therefore the Internet is a complementary format for them.

Of those only consuming in digital format, 2.6% could also be physical consumers, if the barriers that they face lost relevance.

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Juan de Dios Montoro Pons , Universitat de València
Manuel Cuadrado García , Universitat de València

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