Armchair pursuits are more popular than cultural events

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Two-thirds of Britons never go to the theatre, sports events or concerts, a European Union survey says. More than three-quarters do not play a musical instrument, sing or take part in the theatre or dance.

Photography, painting and writing are just as alien to the majority of Britons – and if that makes the UK seem as if it is a cultural desert, the rest of Europe is just as uninterested in the arts.

The survey, in which 16,162 people aged 15 and over from the 15 member states completed a questionnaire, shows armchair activities such as watching TV and listening to music are far more popular.

Almost all Britons – 99.3 per cent – have at least one television (Spain and Greece alone boast an official 100 per cent TV ownership rating), while 88.8 per cent have a video recorder, 51.1 per cent have a personal computer and 18.8 per cent have a DVD player.

Book ownership in Britain follows the EU average, with 35 per cent in the survey saying they have up to 200 books on their shelves. Britons seem to be more avid book readers, however, with more than 34 per cent saying they read more than a dozen books for pleasure in the last 12 months, compared with an EU average of 19.5 per cent. Almost half of Europeans (46 per cent) read a newspaper every day, with Britain, at 55.6 per cent, above average.

The three most popular cultural activities in Europe are going to the cinema, visiting the library and visiting historical monuments. The Spanish and Irish went to the cinema the most last year; the French visited the most historical sites.

Just over 66 per cent of Britons listen to music every day, with 60.2 per cent opting for rock and pop, 56.2 per cent choosing easy listening and 40.9 per cent favouring classical music. But some member states put traditional or folk music first, notably in Greece, Portugal and Austria.