Ask pretty much any anthropologist and they would say quite fairly that the influence of culture on society is near impossible to actually measure. Sure there are examples where a work of art (in all its various forms) can cause shifts in attitude and approach, but by no means are these universally held by all people.
A contemporary example if this which keeps raising its head over the last couple of decades would by how far violent movies influence real-world violence. Generally speaking, there has been near to no evidence that they correlate, and if anything brutality on screen has made potentially even a counteractive influence on violent crime! Sure – both are generalizations and by no means universally applicable, but this does serve as an example of how convoluted the influence of culture may be.
What is certainly more observable is the ‘knock-on’ factor when it comes to popular trends. Taking comedy as an example, the tendency towards far more dark styles becoming mainstream has led to a clear-cut shift in testing social boundaries. What can be said on stage nowadays is pretty much a free for all, while again not that long ago they would have been lambasted by the vocal mainstream opposition.
Technology and the subsequent rise of a media-driven culture have made a huge difference. There is, quite frankly nothing stopping anyone watching any comedy, movie or performance that may have been far trickier to access just as little as a decade ago. So this means that people who may once have been easier labeled as ‘art’, ‘music’ or ‘movie’ fans tend now to be a much more opaque form. It is unusual for people to be purely into one format nowadays!
In the very good news, this exposure has unleashed an enormous new influx of artists across all media who may otherwise have never gained such a stage. It has never been easier for real talent to find an audience, and this is why live music, comedy, and dramatic circles are experiencing a boost at local levels. People are thinking – if they can do it, why not me? Long term this is only going to be a good thing and will reap real rewards way into the future (providing we remember to live our real lives!).