Creative Workforce - Creation - Overview

There are notable differences in the gender balance of artists practising in each artform

Throsby and Zednik estimate that just over half of artists in Australia are female (51 percent) and 49 percent are male. In comparison, there are more males in the total labour force than females (55 percent males versus 45 percent females).

The gender split across art forms varies substantially, with a higher proportion of females among dancers (76 percent), community cultural development workers (72 percent), and craft practitioners (79 percent). Composers and musicians are more likely to be male (73 and 68 percent).


Attendance and Engagement - Participation - Overview

9 in 10 Australians attend arts or read literature

The Australia Council’s 2013 survey of arts participation showed 94 percent of Australians receptively participated in the arts in the year prior to the survey, a significant increase from 92 percent in 2009. Participation included attending a live event, an exhibition or reading literature.

Participation levels varied by artform but remained at similar levels to 2009. The survey showed the highest levels of participation were in literature (via reading) with almost 90 percent of Australians reading in the year before the survey, with over half reading weekly (57 percent) compared to an estimated 38 percent in 2009. Excluding reading, 71 percent of Australians participated through attending events/exhibitions.


Funding Sustainability - Support - Overview

Visual arts attracts significant public funding for art museums

All artforms are supported with public funding in 2012-13, including:

  • Visual arts - $382 million[1]

-Art museums – $317 million[2]

-Visual arts and craft - $65 million

  • Performing arts (including music, dance, theatre and other performing arts) - $702 million[3]

-Music – $174 million

-Dance – $37million

-Theatre – $62 million

-Performing art venues - $270 million

  • Literature – $46 million.

There is also substantial funding for ‘other arts’ items, which includes cross-artform activities.

[1] Includes an estimated $61 million for art museums from local government. This is an estimate only as detailed data was not available for 2012-13. Excluding the estimated local government funding, there was $256 million in support for art museums in 2012-13.

[2] Includes an estimated $61 million for art museums from local government. This is an estimate only as detailed data was not available for 2012-13. Excluding the estimated local government funding, there was $256 million in support for art museums in 2012-13.

[3] Includes an estimated $106 million for performing arts from local government. This is an estimate only as detailed data was not available for 2012-13. Excluding the estimated local government funding, there was $596 million in support for performing arts in 2012-13.


Number of songwriters, composers and musicians - Creation - Music

Most Australian songwriters identify with the Pop/Rock category

More than half of all songwriters/composers registered with APRA identify with the pop/rock category.

Other common genres self-selected by APRA members are Alternative, Blues and roots, Country, Electronic and Jazz.[1]

[1]   Note songwriters/composers can be registered in more than one category


Performing industry - Industry - Music

Orchestras, opera companies and choirs attract almost 2 million attendances annually

The Australia Council supports almost 30 music organisations with regular funding to produce and present music performances to Australian audiences.

In 2011 regularly funded organisations, including 14 Major Performing Arts (MPA) organsiations and 15 Key organisations, were involved in development of over 150 new Australian works, and attracted almost 2 million attendances.

Table 5 - Summary of music performance organisations in Australia

TypeNumber of orgsNew Aussie worksAttendancesBox office income ($000s)Sponsorship & philanthropy ($’000s)Employment
MPA organisations14401,413,12792,74833,0361,594
Key organisations15122511,8464,7054,31991


Recording industry - Industry - Music

Two-thirds of the 15,000 tracks released each year in Australia are rock, pop and dance tracks

In 2011-12, 15,910 new Australian music tracks were publicly released – capping off over 150,000 over the past ten years.

ARIA estimates that over two-thirds of tracks released in Australia in 2011-12 were rock, pop and dance tracks (69 percent). Country/folk (12 percent), classical (7 percent) and soul/R&B (3 percent) were the next three most popular categories, with less than 500 tracks in each of the remaining categories; easy/MOR/nostalgia, jazz, ambient, childrens, traditional.


Attendance - Participation - Music

Popular music audiences are younger than other arts goers

Attendees of music events are significantly younger than attendees of other arts events (68 percent being aged 15 to 24 years).

Popular music audiences are significantly younger than other music audiences. Popular music audiences were generally in the 15-24 age group (84 percent), while many classical music audiences were aged 65 years and over (42 percent).




The internet plays an important role for attendees of live music events, with music audiences more likely to engage online before, during and after events

Live music audiences were more likely than other arts audiences to use the internet at almost all stages when attending a music event.

Popular music attendees were more likely than attendees of opera, classical music and musical theatre to use the internet at various stages of their attendance journey. For example, musical festival attendees were more likely than other music attendees to engage in online word of mouth before (42 percent vs. 28 percent) and after the event (53 percent vs. 37 percent). Meanwhile, opera attendees were less likely than other music attendees to engage in online word of mouth both prior to (16 percent vs. 28 percent) or after an event (18 percent vs. 34 percent).

While opera attendees were also less likely to further enrich their experience by accessing online images and video before or after the event, they were more likely than other music attendees to have an interest in being able to do this (29 percent vs. 13 percent after the event).

Figure 30 - Use of the internet at each stage of the 'attendance journey' - arts attendees and live music attendees

Total arts attendeesLive music attendees
At the event31%32%
After the event66%73%


Touring - Global - Music

Australia’s major performing arts organisations perform to international audiences in Asia, Europe and North America

In 2010, three MPA organisations presented 38 music performances abroad. The number of performances has dropped below 2008 and 2009 levels – with the global financial crisis impacting on many companies’ touring plans.

Most music performances were presented in Asia and Europe – in contrast to the theatre organisations who toured mostly to North America.

Whilst the number of chamber music performances exceeded symphony orchestra performances – the latter attracted a larger audience – with over 22,000 people attending nine performances in Europe.

Figure 26 - International music performances by MPA organisations

AsiaEuropeNorth America
Chamber music - 20102204461176821121200
Symphony orchestra - 20100001922803000


Public funding - Support - Music

Over half of Australia Council funding goes to the music sector – with the majority supporting Australia’s orchestras and opera companies

In 2010-11, the Australia Council invested a total of $84.7 million in the music sector, including distributing $51.3 million to 6 orchestras.

$5.7 million  was provided through the Music Board to activities including the writing and recording of new music, the presentation of concerts and tours and festivals, professional development for artists.

The Music Board also supports 37 organisations through its Key Organisations and program funding. While the majority are presenting and performing organisations, this group also includes service organisations such as the Music Council of Australia.

The Major Performing Arts Board provides annual rolling funding of $72.4 million to six symphony orchestras- the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, West Australian, Queensland and Tasmanian symphonies; one pit orchestra – Orchestra Victoria;  two chamber music organisations -the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Musica Viva Australia; a period instrument Orchestra – the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra; and four opera companies – Opera Australia, including the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra; and the West Australian, Queensland and South Australian opera companies. Each of these organisations is contracted under a tripartite/quadripartite agreement between the company, the Australian government and the relevant State funding bodies.   MPA organisations are obliged to meet specific criteria and outcomes agreed under individual funding arrangements which include demonstrating artistic vibrancy and significant sector development initiatives.

Further support for music is provided through the Arts Development Division via a range of music specific programs targeting international market development. These include foundation funding of Sounds Australia, a national export initiative established to provide a cohesive platform for the promotion of Australian music and music businesses at international markets. Other initiatives include funding for the Australasian World Music Expo and support for international touring and showcasing through International Pathways (in partnership with the Music Board) and Live On Stage.

The ATSIA division, Community Partnerships committee and Artstart program all also support individual music projects.


Profile of professional artists - Creation - Visual Arts

Women are more likely to create visual arts than men

Significantly more women practice visual arts than men. This gender balance is reflected throughout different parts of the visual arts sector – from children’s participation, to hobbyists and the professional sector.

Throsby and Zednik estimated in 2009 that almost two thirds of professional visual artists and four-fifths of craft practitioners were women (63 percent and 79 percent), relative to 51 percent of all artists.

The Census figures for visual arts occupations show more women are employed in visual arts occupations than men (55 percent to 45 percent), with the exception of sculptors (68 percent men).

In visual arts related occupations (including design, art teaching and picture framing) the gender balance depends on the occupation. Women are more likely to be employed in occupations such as:

  • Art teachers
  • Fashion designers
  • Interior designers.

Men are more likely to be employed in occupations such as:

  • Photographers
  • Picture framers
  • Illustrators.


Global art market - Global - Visual Arts

Paintings and drawings represent 96 percent of auction turnover globally

According to Artprice, paintings and drawings garner higher average prices at auction compared with sculpture, print and photographic works.

In 2010, it estimated that paintings and drawings accounted for 69 percent of lots sold, but 96 percent of auction turnover globally.


The majority of European auction sales relate to Modern art, but Contemporary and Post-war sales are growing

Sales of Modern art works represent 48 percent of the European visual art auction market. Artprice reports that in 2012 Modern works sold at auction generated over $3 billion in revenue.

Contemporary and Post-war works generate an increasing share of the market. Between 2000 and 2012, sales of Contemporary and Post-war works increased from 11 percent to 34 percent of European auction turnover.

Sales of ‘Old masters’ and ‘19th Century’ works have decreased over time, respectively accounting for just 8 and 11 percent of the market in 2012.


Cultural tourism in Australia - Global - Visual Arts

The Australian economy benefits from international visitors to museums and galleries

Tourism Research Australia’s International Visitor Survey 2009, showed more than half (51 percent) of all overseas visitors attended at least one cultural attraction while in Australia.

Of these, 57 percent had visited a museum or art gallery and 17 percent had visited an art/craft workshop or studio.

Many also experienced Indigenous culture, with 20 percent ‘experiencing Aboriginal art/craft and cultural displays’, and 11 percent ‘visiting an Aboriginal site/community’.

International cultural and heritage visitors create economic benefits through longer stays and higher spending patterns than other tourists. In 2009, the average amount spent per trip was $6,280 compared with other international visitors who spent on average $3,832. This resulted in total spending of $16.3 billion in 2009.

Visitors from Asia accounted for 36 percent of all international cultural and heritage visitors. The United Kingdom and New Zealand accounted for a further 15 percent and 13 percent respectively.

The most popular destinations for both international and domestic cultural heritage visitors were New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, while rates of participation in cultural and heritage activities were higher in the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.


Attendance - Participation - Visual Arts
Tag : genre

With around 11 million visitors a year, galleries are now more highly attended than Australia’s most popular spectator sport, Australian Rules Football, which had 10 million attendances in 2009-10.


Almost 40 percent of Australians attend visual arts and craft presentations, exhibitions and festivals each year

The Australia Council’s survey of arts participation showed that thirty-eight percent of Australians attended a visual arts and craft event in 2009, with over half of these attendees (54 percent or 21 percent of all Australians) going to an exhibition of a painting, drawing or street art.

Digital or video art was the least attended type of visual arts event with only 17 percent of visual arts attendees (or seven percent of all Australians) going to these events.

Visual arts and craft events were attended, on average, twice as often as other artforms over a 12 month period. Among those who attend each artform, visual arts were attended 14 times a year compared to six times for music and theatre and dance audiences.

Craft events had the highest number of attendances at 16 times a year, while sculpture and installation art events had the least number of attendances at 10 times per year.


Visual arts are particularly popular among older age groups

In general, attendees of visual arts events are significantly older than attendees of other arts events (47 percent being aged 55 to 64 years).

  • Painting, drawing and street art are the most popular type of visual arts, attended by  50-60 percent of all age groups
  • Sculpture and photography is enjoyed by around a quarter of all age groups
  • Attendance at craft events increases from one in five 15-24 year olds to one in three of those over 65


Attendance at art galleries is on the rise and there is an opportunity to build attendance further

In 2009-10 over 4.5 million Australians aged 15 years and over visited an art gallery (26 percent of the Australian population).

This represented a significant increase (14 percent) in the participation rate in 2005-06.  A greater proportion of Australians are visiting galleries once or twice per year (66 percent) with one in 10 visiting galleries six times or more.

The proportion of Australians who visited a gallery once a year has risen from 8.3 percent in 2005-06 to 10.4 percent in 2009-10.

There is an opportunity to continue building engagement with these visitors and grow attendance.


Creative participation - Participation - Visual Arts

There are more Australians creating visual arts than any other type of art – with craft and photography among the most popular sub-forms

Just over one in five Australians created visual arts and craft (22 percent) in 2009. These individuals were engaged creatively in visual art or craft work every five to six days.

Of these, two fifths creatively participated in craft or photographic work (as an artistic endeavour) every five or six days.

Digital and video art creators participated more frequently in the production of work (every four to five days).



Visual arts and craft is the one of the most popular cultural activities in Australia, but paid employment opportunities are low

Arts and craft’ were among the most common creative activities for Australians in 2010-11. Over 2 million people participated in some form of visual arts activity, and around 1,916,600 participated in some form of craft activity.

For example, almost 1.25 million Australians participated in sculpting, painting, drawing or cartooning (including digital pieces), while over 1.5 million were involved in textile crafts, jewellery making, paper crafts or wood crafts. In comparison, around 950,900 were involved in singing or playing an instrument, and 840,800 were involved in writing any fiction or non-fiction.

Although females are more likely to participate in both visual arts and craft activities, this difference is notably larger for craft activities – 74 percent of participants involved in craft activities are female, while 56 percent of participants involved in visual arts activities are female.

Most involvement in visual arts and craft is unpaid, with around 100,000 participants in sculpting, painting, drawing or cartooning (including digital pieces) earning some form of payment from their participation. Photography and filmmaking or editing fares slightly better with around 122,000 of those involved earning payment from their involvement.


Private sector support - Support - Visual Arts

Visual arts organisations generated $53 million in private sector support in 2009-10 – more than any other art form

In terms of philanthropy and sponsorship earnings, art galleries outperform other parts of the arts sector generating almost a quarter of total earnings.

In an AbaF survey of 318 arts organisations, it was estimated that $221 million in private sector support was generated by the arts in 2010-11. The visual arts generated $53 million of this amount.

Art galleries earn most of their support through philanthropic giving ($40 million), with sponsorship making up a smaller but still notable share ($11 million).

In contrast, visual arts, craft and design organisations participating in the survey were estimated to earn just $2 million in private sector support, and most of this was generated through sponsorship (increasing from $0.9 million in 2008-09 to $1.5 million in 2009-10).


Visual arts organisations generate higher levels of private sector support than other arts organisations regularly funded by the Australia Council

Looking at organisations regularly funded through the Australia Council, visual arts organisations (including galleries, arts and craft centres, festivals and service organisations) earn well above other arts organisations from private revenue sources – although earnings in 2011 were lower[1] than 2010 levels.

In 2011, 40 surveyed visual arts organisations earned an average private sector income of $302,500 (compared with $360,000 in 2010), generating over $12 million in total.

However, ‘It’s a given’ found that earning levels were not uniform from organisation to organisation, and identified four visual arts organisations who earn 81.2 percent of total private sector support for visual arts.

This sample includes organisations operating on a biannual cycle, such as the Biennale of Sydney, which may influence the fluctuations in the data.

[1]   The overall decrease in private sector support for funded visual arts organisations has been driven by a decrease in corporate sponsorship for visual arts companies. This trend is consistent with a 20 percent decline in sponsorship revenues across the arts sector from 2010 to 2011.