Research finds millions of young people never visit museums, galleries or theatres.
The perception that heritage organisations are ‘boring’, distance to travel, and cost are the top three reasons that prevent young adults from visiting heritage organisations. More than a third (36%) of 18-30 year olds never visit galleries, and almost a quarter (24%) never visit theatres. While just under one in five never visit museums (19%). Almost half (48%) never visit stately homes, while a third (33%) never visit castles. The research revealed a stark gender gap in attitudes towards heritage with young men far less likely to visit heritage buildings than women.
Many of the young adults surveyed had never visited heritage organisations as a child. More than a third (37%) had never visited a stately home, while a quarter (25%) had never visited a gallery as a child. Just under one in five (19%) had never visited a castle as a child.
People who were not taken to heritage locations as children on school trips, are far less likely to visit them as adults. For example, 60% of those who went to museums as children visit at least once a year now they are adults. While of those who never visited museums as children, 69% never go as adults. In contrast, engaging children with heritage and culture early on can help to inspire a lifelong passion for heritage. For example, 50% of those who visited galleries as children visit at least once a year now they are adults.
Research by The Sutton Trust, which focuses on improving social mobility, has found educational outings such as going on trips to museums and galleries help bright but disadvantaged students to get better A-levels2. While schools are under increasing financial pressures, the charity recommends that enrichment vouchers should be funded through the pupil premium for both primary and secondary pupils. While many young people are missing out, some schools are using methods such as whole-school fundraising, with the proceeds pooled, to help pupils attend school trips.
Faith Kitchen, heritage director at Ecclesiastical added: “As a leading insurer of heritage buildings we’re passionate about history and culture in the UK. Schools have a vital role in engaging young people in heritage and our research highlights that school trips can make a huge difference in inspiring the next generation.”
Lizzie Glithero-West, Chief Executive at The Heritage Alliance commented: “These findings emphasise the importance of introducing children to culture from the start; an organisation that makes families and school parties welcome is investing in the future audience for our historic environment in a tangible way. Ecclesiastical’s research also found over 50% of respondents said that a digital experience inspired them to want to visit in person, and over a third said a good online presence would encourage them to share their experiences of heritage organisations on social media. We have future ambassadors for the sector waiting to be harnessed...”