This indicator measures the percentage of adults who have participated in a cultural activity in the last 12 months prior to the respondents’ interview

Source of Data:

The SHS is a survey of households across Scotland, and provides reliable statistics over a wide range of topics. Since 2007, questions about participation in cultural activities and attendance at cultural events have been included in the SHS to provide statistically robust data on cultural engagement by adults (16+) in Scotland.

This year, the SHS Annual Report is a more concise volume, containing a one page summary of each topic area, including culture. A decision was taken to publish the results for culture and heritage in a separate, standalone report.

The culture statistics in the 2019 SHS Culture and Heritage Report are at national level, with breakdowns available for different factors (for example: age, gender, qualification level of respondents, and Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation).

As part of a substantial review of the whole SHS questionnaire, the response categories for culture were amended to better understand the nature and frequency of attendance and participation at cultural events and activities. Given the changes to the 2018 questionnaire, figures from 2018 onwards are not directly comparable with previous years and therefore the 2018 SHS culture data provide a new baseline for this indicator.

The Scottish Household Survey is designated as an Official Statistic.

Data for this indicator is published in the Scottish Household Survey Annual Report, which can be found here. An interactive data explorer for the SHS can be found here.​​​​​​​


Participation in a cultural activity" is defined as those adults who participated in at least one type of cultural activity in the previous year.

The list of different types of cultural activities are:

  • Read books for pleasure (including on a Kindle or other mobile device)
  • Dance, either for fitness or not for fitness
  • Played a musical instrument or written music
  • Taken part in a play (including backstage)
  • Sang in a singing group or choir
  • Painting, drawing, printmaking or sculpture
  • Photography as an artistic activity (not family or holiday 'snaps')
  • Film-making, video-making as an artistic activity
  • Used a computer to produce artwork or animation
  • Crafts such as knitting, wood, pottery, etc.
  • Creative writing - stories, books, plays or poetry
  • Viewed performances (e.g. music or dance) online on a smartphone, computer, smart tv etc
  • Viewed cultural content online (e.g. museum or heritage collections or artist’s work)
  • Shared art or creative content online that you have created yourself (such as digital art, music, dance, videos or recordings)
  • Other cultural activity

Criteria for Change:

2018 data provide a new baseline for this indicator. Evaluation of change is based on the actual results from the Scottish Household Survey which are presented in the SHS Culture and Heritage Report and the SHS Annual Report whereby statistically significant changes are detected and reported. The calculation of the statistically significant criteria for change use the SHS estimates and their base sizes to calculate an accurate test statistic (95% confidence interval) to compare against the absolute difference between the two estimates.

  • Any difference within +/- 1 percentage point of previous survey will suggest that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change.
  • An increase of 1 percentage point or more will suggest the position is improving;
  • whereas a decrease of 1 percentage point or more will suggest the position is worsening.
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