‘Everyday’ Australians do care about arts and culture 

27 September 2022

Despite being stereotyped as disinterested in art and culture, Baby Boomer middle Australians say it enriches their lives, underpins community connection and improves mental health.

In a landmark study, Baby Boomers – born in the aftermath of World War II – say arts and culture helps them ‘stay young’, creating cross-generational connections and is a foundation for thriving, safe communities for all Australians.

Lifelong: Perceptions of arts and culture among Baby Boomer middle Australians, released today, explores the views of Baby Boomer middle Australians – described as people from low to middle income households in the outer suburbs and the regions, aged 58-75, who are politically unaligned and don’t work in the arts and culture.

Part of a three-year study of non-urban middle Australians, the latest Insight Report by independent arts and culture think tank A New Approach (ANA) charts Baby Boomer middle Australians’ changing but lifelong connection to creative engagement.

For this cohort, art and cultural experiences have been helping them create memories over a lifetime. Now, it is providing opportunities for them to connect with their grandchildren, children and other younger people.

ANA CEO Kate Fielding said Baby Boomer middle Australians tell us arts and culture is helping them ‘stay young’ and is helping boost their mental health, particularly in the COVID-19 era.

“We’ve sought out their views because we wanted a first-hand account of the role arts and culture play – or didn’t play – in their lives and in their community,” she said.

Perhaps only second to recent cultural upheaval with the sad passing of Australia’s monarch, Baby Boomers are a generation privy to some of the biggest changes of our time; there for the advent of television to the rise of rock and roll, the birth of the internet, the social media revolution and now the immersive digital age.

“Middle Australian Baby Boomers have lived through significant transformations in Australian arts and culture. Now, as they navigate a different phase of life, how they participate in arts, cultural and creative experiences is evolving, as is what it means to them,“ Ms Fielding said.

According to the research, driving motivations for Baby Boomer middle Australians’ support for arts and culture were the social and community benefits conferred by bringing people together to take part in cultural experiences and creative activities.

“They also told us cultural participation helps them to test opinions, negotiate and compromise, see others’ points of view and have healthy disagreements.”

“In a complicated world, it is affirming that this cohort see arts and culture as an antidote to division and a catalyst for positive conduct like open-mindedness and understanding.”

Ms Fielding said the message from middle Australia is that “we, ‘everyday people” do care about arts and culture and have strong views about the role that it plays in their own lives and in society.

“This research is further evidence that the broader community will benefit from the new National Cultural Policy and that it needs to consider how we make arts and cultural opportunities available for all Australians,” she said.

“We hear much about the fault lines fracturing our society but in arts, culture and creative experiences we have a counter-balance; they enrich us and bring light to life, encourage participation, create connection, deliver thriving communities and are a tool to help with the challenge of mental health across the generations.”

Read Lifelong: Perceptions of arts and culture among Baby Boomer middle Australians

Media enquiries: contact Alexandra Nichols on 0431 468 665 or alexandra.nichols@newapproach.org.au

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New Approach acknowledges that it meets, works and travels on the lands of First Nations peoples. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and to all First Nations peoples.