Theatres, operas, museums and art galleries, 2006


Observations for policy

Services of General Interest (SGI) include the provision of cultural leisure activities which are considered at a high level of personal needs.

Public expenditure cuts triggered by the financial crisis and will impact on issues concerning the quality and accessibility to SGI and most likely on the future provision and maintenance of those services.

Many economic and demographically disadvantaged regions face the risk of becoming even more disadvantaged as a consequence of the budget cuts needed to manage the financial crisis. This could hamper policy ambitions concerning economic, social and territorial cohesion as the gap between rich and poor regions can be expected to increase.

Policy context

The importance given to SGI reflects the obligation of local and regional authorities in ensuring the provision of public services in accordance with certain standards, particularly in terms of quality, availability, and affordability.

Map interpretation

The map shows the presence of theatres, operas, museums, and art galleries per 100 000 inhabitants. In general, urban areas and tourist regions in Western Europe concentrate more cultural facilities per inhabitant than any other region. This is particularly striking in densely populated areas and wealthier regions across Europe.

Theatres, operas, museums and art galleries with national or international recognition play an active role in metropolitan areas. This somehow explains the values observed for metropolitan regions. The same applies to cultural facilities located in tourist destinations. furthermore, the number of visitors to museums, operas, or theatres coincides with personal preferences and interests as well as educational and social background. In addition to this, GDP per capita indicates the need for such services.

The map merely shows the total number of facilities and does not reflect qualitative differences between concert halls, operas, theatres and museums.

Concepts and methods

The definition applied to SGI is twofold. On the one hand, it aggregates social services of general interest, including education, health care, housing and social assistance services. On the other, it aggregates services of general economic interest that encompass gas, electricity, postal services, or transport.