The Active Lives survey

The Active Lives Survey is a Sport England-led survey about English adult’s (aged 16+) participation in leisure and recreational activities, including sport, physical activity and culture. The survey will involve a mixed postal and online methodology and the overall number of respondents will be around 198,000 people each year. The survey will collect representative data from the adult population in England and in each local authority area in England.

The survey will be conducted by Ipsos MORI from November 2015 onwards, for five years. Arts Council England, Public Health England and Department for Transport are also funding partners in the new survey. 

More information about the content and management of the Active Lives Survey is on Sport England's website.

  • Between November 2015 – November 2016, the Active Lives Survey will measure
  • Arts participation (doing creative, artistic, theatrical or music activity or a craft)
  • Arts attendance (attending an event, performance or festival involving creative, artistic, dance, theatrical or music activity)
  • Museums and gallery attendance
  • Use of a public library service
  • Participation in dance activities, including creative and artistic dance. 

The survey will ask respondents whether they have undertaken each activity in the previous 12 month period, how frequently, and when they last undertook each activity in the previous 12 months. 

The Arts Council also continues to invest in the national Taking Part survey.

Frequenty asked questions (FAQs)

Please read our FAQs (Word / PDF) about the Active Lives Survey.

The FAQs summarise key information about the survey such as approaches to sampling, sample sizes, geographical coverage and a more detailed description of the survey questions about arts and culture. The FAQs also describe in more detail the differences between the Active Lives Survey and Taking Part Survey.

Publication of the data

Data from the Active Lives Survey about arts and cultural engagement between November 2015 – November 2016 will be published by the Arts Council in February 2017. The release will include local authority level data. 

The Active People Survey, 2008-10

The Active People survey is a national telephone survey about participation in sport. The Active Lives Survey will replace the Active People Survey. More information about the differences between the Active Lives Survey and Active People Survey can be found in the FAQs.

Between 2008-2010, the Active People Survey measured adult engagement with arts and culture in each local authority area in England. The data from Active People was used to measure the performance of local authorities against National Indicator 11: the percentage of adults engaging with the arts three or more times a year.

We analysed data from the Active People survey to create a list that ranks local authorities by level of arts engagement. This list can be downloaded here.  It highlights the (pre-2009) local authorities in the lowest fifth and third of all local authorities in England.

If you wish to understand the level of arts engagement by artistic genre, or in England as a whole, we would recommend using data from the Taking Part survey instead.

More information

Please contact research@artscouncil.org.uk with any questions about the Active Lives Survey.