90 per cent of Britons want to be more cultured

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The Independent Online

Nine out of 10 people want to be more cultured, and will aim to see more theatre, opera or exhibitions in 2004, according to a survey released yesterday.

Nine out of 10 people want to be more cultured, and will aim to see more theatre, opera or exhibitions in 2004, according to a survey released yesterday.

But while 70 per cent of people saw themselves as cultured, only one in 10 had attended a ballet or opera in the past year. Residents of Greater London spent the most time at opera and ballet with two out of 10 having a performance in the past year.

In the East Midlands and Wales 40 per centadmitted a lack of arts knowledge. The main reasons were lack of time, cost and the distance to travel, particularly for people in Scotland and Wales.

The survey of more than 1,000 adults was undertaken in December for Sky+ and Artsworld, the culture channel in which Sky has a 50 per cent stake. Katie Cole, Artsworld's channel director, said the increase in full-length opera, ballet and theatre on digital television - after years of diminished offerings on terrestrial television - could be the solution. "As a cultured nation, it is clear that we are eager to experience the arts," she said.

Colin Tweedy, chief executive of Arts and Business which runs Arts and Kids, said research had shown the long-term benefits of the arts. Eight out of 10 business leaders said that Britain would have a better quality workforce if people were exposed to the arts as children. A third of the bosses had played an instrument while some 80 per cent had been avid readers as children.

The Prince of Wales' Arts and Kids Foundation has called for business support to introduce one million children to the arts by 2008 as part of its "Arts and Kids Business Challenge". Research for the Arts Council of England showed that Britain's ethnic minority communities had more interest in the arts than white British residents.

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