Digital Engagement with art

Engagement with art can have significant benefits for people with dementia and their caregivers.

The experience involves looking at and discussing art or creating art. In both cases, art can be used as a vehicle for meaningful self-expression.

  • engaging with the arts through digital media is now a mainstream activity
  • live experience: this engagement augments, rather than replaces, the live experience. people still want shared, live experiences in other arts and cultural genres.

Findings from survey of a 2000-strong sample of the English adult online population:

  • Over half of the online population (53%) have used the internet to engage with the arts and cultural sector in the last 12 months
    • The most common activities centre around discovery of information about a live event or artist/performer (33%) and ticketing (20%)
    • Other key activities include watching or listening to a clip of an arts performance or exhibition (16%),

      whilst a further 8% had watched or listened to a full arts performance

    • 6% say they have used the internet to “create something artistic” in the past 12 months.
  • Interaction with arts and cultural content in digital environments can be classified into five main categories: access, learn, experience, share and create:

• Access: discovering what’s on, filtering opportunities and planning attendance or participation
• Learn: acquiring new skills and knowledge (for example, finding out more about the life of an artist)
• Experience: experiencing the full creative or artistic work online
• Sharing: using the internet to share content, experiences and opinions
• Create: use of the internet to assist with the creative process itself.



  • People currently use digital media primarily as a complement to, rather than a substitute for, the live experience: Most people perceive the live offline experience as being superior to the online.
  • Music is the genre showing the highest level of online engagement – however, opportunities for other cultural genres remain strong:
    • Of those who had viewed an online clip of an arts event, 81% had viewed a music clip. Dance (30%) and theatre (27%) were the next highest, followed by visual arts (19%) 
    • However, there appear to be clear opportunities for other genres: for example, 56% of museums fans and 47% of those interested in archives would like to take a virtual tour of the institution they were visiting online
    • Similarly, five minute performance/exhibition clips appealed to nearly half of those with an interest in visual arts and 41% of dance fans, whilst 44% of dance fans said they would take a virtual tour backstage.
  • Social media – and in particular Facebook – has become a major tool for discovering as well as sharing information about arts and culture, second only to organic search through Google and other search engines:

• Over half of the online population use social networking sites at least once a month – of these, around a quarter said they shared information on arts or cultural events with friends at least weekly
• A further 15% of regular social networking users comment weekly on arts or cultural events whilst attending/watching.

  • Brands are really important for audiences in discovering and filtering content online:

• In general, people feel they need credible assistance from trusted cultural brands such as the
National Trust and British Museum to help them decide which experiences to look into
• These trusted brands are particularly important for older audience members who tend to be
concerned about online security
• In addition, aggregator sites from trusted brands such as, Time Out and View London
play a key role – around half (54%) agree that they ‘prefer to use websites that have information from
a range of sources and about a range of organisations’

  • People fall into five distinct segments based on their behaviour and attitudes to the arts and digital media. Three of these segments are of particular interest to arts and cultural organisations:

Confident core (29%): Mainstream internet users, comfortable performing a range of tasks online, including purchasing tickets and using social and rich media. They have an active interest in the arts and culture and regularly attend or participate in live arts and cultural activities. This segment sees the internet as its primary channel for discovering, filtering, planning and buying tickets to live events
Late adopters (21%): Show relatively low confidence online – they will use email, Google and a few trusted sites. They may book tickets online, but social media and the mobile internet remain a mystery. This segment claims an active interest in the arts and culture although in practice they attend once in a while
Leading edge (11%): Technophiles, displaying ‘early adopter’ behaviour such as regular mobile internet access and downloading creative software. Passionate about arts and culture and very participative. Avid users of social media to arrange or share/comment on an arts experience. High expectations (as a result of their engagement with the most sophisticated forms of digital entertainment) can limit their satisfaction with current online arts and cultural experiences

  • People who engage with arts and cultural content online tend to participate in the arts through live events as well – suggesting that digital media is more valuable as a means of reaching out to audiences that are already culturally engaged:

• Only 1% of the online population have engaged in arts and culture solely online (with no offline
attendance or participation) in the past 12 months
• Attitudinally, those who can see the potential for digital media in arts and culture tend to be those who
already enjoy arts and culture.

via Digital audiences: Engagement with arts and culture online

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