No accounting for culture in Dublin
A new report measures the cultural output of 12 cities, but we don’t know how the Irish capital compares, writes UNA MULLALLY
HOW CULTURAL IS Dublin? Who knows? A report examining the cultural output of 12 international cities, commissioned by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was published this week for a cultural summit taking place in London. The summit will see representatives from the 12 cities meeting to discuss common cultural aims.
But there is no body of stats to quantify the cultural offerings of the Irish capital. The collation of statistics documenting the number of theatres, galleries, libraries, museums, venues, festivals and cultural spaces in Dublin has been talked about for many years among arts and tourism organisations, but only disparate figures exist.
The Arts Council has figures on the number of spaces and organisations it funds, but that does not take into account the numerous non-funded, more underground and privately-funded cultural outlets that exist.
Different cultural organisations cover their own ground separately, although the Arts Council has provided reports on the value of culture to the Irish economy, and tourist boards consistently outline cultural activities as some of the biggest draws to the country.
But, although the city is sold on its culture, there is no solid number for outlets where people experience theatre, music, film, art, history, dance and performance. Cultural outlets also change per city, so perhaps Dublin would have a chance at keeping up with the big boys if its pubs were deemed to be cultural venues.
The World Cities Culture Report 2012 found that Paris was the best city for art galleries, cinemas, live-music venues and libraries. Toyko has more bookshops than any other city, London has the most museums and comedy performances, and New York has the most theatres and theatre admissions.
It’s difficult to compare Dublin to international cities in terms of its culture on the basis of this, as organisations here have no comparable statistics for many of the 60 indicators used in the international report. The data has also been gathered from 12 cities that dwarf Dublin in terms of population, making direct comparisons problematic.
Economic and funding fluctuations have seen most cultural outlets face extreme difficulties but, simultaneously, creative partnerships with the private sector, as well as the decision by the local authorities in Dublin, and Nama, to free up disused space for cultural and artistic activities, muddy how many cultural outlets the city has in an ever-changing and frequently pop-up cultural landscape.
Although the value to various organisations of a similar report on Dublin and Ireland would be great, those organisations freely admit that they are currently not in a position to provide the resources to gather information across the board.
Culture By numbers
Best for libraries
Paris has 830 and is way ahead of the pack, followed by Shanghai which has 477. London has 383, Toyko has 377, Johannesburg has 234, New York has 220, Sydney has 154 and Berlin has 88.
Best for bookshops
Tokyo has the most bookshops among the 12 cities with 1,675, Shanghai has 1,322, Paris has 1,025, Johannesburg has 1,020, followed by London’s 802.
Best for museums
London with 173, including 11 national museums. Berlin has 158, Paris has 137, New York has 131.
Best for art galleries
Paris has 1,046 art galleries, London has 857, New York has 721 and Tokyo has 688.
Best for cinemas
Paris has 302 cinemas and the most screens in the world at 1,003. London has 108 cinemas with 566 screens.
Best for theatre
New York has the most theatres with 420 and 28.1 million admissions a year. London has the second highest admissions with 14.2 million at 214 theatres. Paris has 353 theatres.
Best for live music venues
Paris wins again with 423, Toyko has 385, London has 349, Sao Paulo has 294 and New York has 277.
Best for comedy
London sees more comedy shows than anywhere else in the world with 11,388, followed by New York with 11,076 and 10,348 in Paris.