“British kids lack culture!” says city tourism board ahead of half term week

February 15th, 2012

Let’s not believe that the Daily Mail are the only media source printing ideology-led opinion polls as news (although they’re probably the worst offenders). Take, for example, this from the BBC:

British children are culture starved, study says

Millions of British children are “culture starved” as they have never been to an art gallery, theatre or museum, a study has claimed.

The research, commissioned by Visit Birmingham, found four in 10 children had never been to an art gallery, while a quarter of parents had never taken their offspring to the theatre.

One in five parents said they did not think their child would be interested.

The study surveyed 2,000 parents of five to 12-year-olds around the UK.

Quite who thinks it’s a nice idea to be taking children under twelve (and as young as five) to an art gallery, I’ve no idea.

Looking at the stats, is this anything so remarkable? 40% of children aged 5-12 haven’t been in an art gallery – but 40% of children in that age bracket are under nine, so is it odd that children under nice haven’t been taken to an art gallery? I’m not sure. Further, was the breakdown across the age groups equal? Or were there a lot of five year olds included, but not as many twelve year olds – thus potentially skewing the numbers? 

I’ve no idea – the data isn’t presented, and isn’t freely available. Without the sample group, the raw figures don’t tell us much.

Should we expect more children under 12 to have visited art galleries? What would be a non-remarkable percentage, or what would be the expected percentage in a society which isn’t ‘culturally starved’? Again, we’re not told. Without context, the figures are meaningless at best, and misleading at worst. And that’s only if, indeed, they’re even accurate…

This – and the same story in The Telegraph and Daily Mail – came from a survey commissioned by OnePoll, the polling arm of press agency and PR firm 72 Point. We know this is true, because the press release is featured on both websites:

Although, oddly enough, the text is about an entirely different story (an error by the company in putting the story on their site, I presume). Still, it’s clear that they’re the originators, given the URLs of the relevant pages.

Handily, Visit Birmingham themselves published the full press release which the BBC and Telegraph based their articles on, which happily enough appears to coincide entirely coincidentally with their what-to-do-during-half-term offers.

So, a culturally bereft generation gone to the dogs? Or a tourist board advertising their half term offers?