TAB Survey Results: Who are Tokyo’s art-lovers?

Looking at the results of Tokyo Art Beat’s user survey

In In the News TAB News by William Andrews 2011-12-08

Tokyo Art Beat’s interns conducted a survey earlier this year of its users, hoping to glean information not just about the people who visit the website or use the apps or Art Map, but also about the Tokyo art world in general.

The survey was kindly answered by 764 users, of which 239 were male and 525 were female.

Here’s a brief summary of the top results:
– Female users outnumber male ones (as you might have guessed from the breakdown above of the respondents)
– …and tend to be aged from their mid- to late twenties
– …who visit art events two or three times a month
– Favourite galleries and museums are the Teshima Art Museum (on Naoshima), 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa21_21 Design Sight, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
– The mobile phone of choice is the iPhone
– Users are typically company employees or public servants, or doing something in the creative industries
– And their preferred art event genres are painting, installations, photography or media art

Art-lovers are single!

So it seems in Tokyo at any rate. No doubt partly because art event visitor demographics often skewer younger, 82.2% of the survey respondents said they were single and, surprisingly, over 60% also said that they visit events on their own. (Phew, I’m not the only one! Literally.) In other words, Tokyo’s galleries might just be perfect places to find that special person!

Or are they? Only around 10% of respondents said that they go to events to meet new people. Over 90% said, as you’d expect, they went out of curiosity about an event, or due to work or to learn something new. And a mere 2% said they went in order to spend time with friends, family or lovers. Going to see an exhibition is apparently not a good date! (However, the top reasons for going to art event opening receptions or art talks was answered as in order to meet new people.)

Sharing Impressions

Word of mouth and buzz are surely one of the top ways to attract visitors to a show that doesn’t have the mega advertising budget of events like the Yokohama Triennale. How are visitors sharing their impressions of events? Over 73% said they did it over Twitter — almost the same as who said they did it directly with other people. Also, around the same amount of users posted things on their own blogs (25.2%) as on Facebook, mixi or other SNS (29.4%), so it seems that tweeting is the digital platform of choice for TAB users by far.

Artistic Influences

Sometimes getting to a gallery or museum in Tokyo is a real pain, in spite of the city’s superb transport system. Venues can be tucked away or far from stations, so what motivates or influences people to make that special effort to go to an exhibition? Practical factors like ticket price, or location or opening hours?

The most influential factor by far (78.6%) is whether there will be exhibits at the show from an artist users. This does not mean that people are completely shying away from things they are not already familiar with: over 50% said that the overall theme of the exhibition also influenced their decision to head out.

You can view the original version of this article in Japanese on TABlog JP (parts one, two and three), where the results are digested in more detail.

Illustrations by Ayaka Sugiyama.

William Andrews

William Andrews. William Andrews came to Japan in 2004. He first lived in Osaka, where he was a translator for Kansai Art Beat. Arriving in Tokyo in 2008, he now works as an writer, editor and translator. He writes a blog about Japanese radicalism and counterculture (ThrowOutYourBooks.wordpress.com) and one about Tokyo contemporary theatre (TokyoStages.wordpress.com). He is the author of Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima. » See other writings

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