Building Markets - Industry - Overview

Australian households spend $6.5 billion a year on arts-related goods and services – more than dairy products or household appliances

In 2009-10, Australian households spent $15 per week on arts-related products, equating to approximately $6.5 billion economy-wide.

This spending is related to receptive enjoyment of the arts at home such as listening to music (57 percent), attending arts events (21 percent) and creatively participating in the arts (22 percent).

Key items of spending included books ($4.64 per week), culture courses ($2.00 per week) and music concerts ($1.89 per week).


Spending on the arts increased by 7 percent between 2003-04 and 2009-10, creating more commercial opportunities for the arts

Spending on the arts increased by 7 percent between 2003-04 and 2009-10, after adjusting for inflation.

Spending associated with attending the arts grew the fastest, but still represents the smallest component of spending.

Looking at individual categories, the highest growth rates occurred in music concert fees and charges, paintings, carvings and sculptures, and portable music players.

Spending on musical instruments and accessories, CD players and pre-recorded compact discs and records (audio) decreased over the period.


Spending on entertainment and media is expected to continue growing at 3 percent a year to 2018

PwC’s Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook 2014-2018 predicts that Australia’s total entertainment and media market will continue to grow at a 3.4 percent compound annual growth rate to reach $39.8 billion in 2018.[1]

Much of this growth is related to Australian internet access spending, which consists of consumer fees paid to internet service providers for broadband plans, wireless mobile services and data cards, and dial-up access.

Strong growth in the Australian music sector is largely driven by the digital distribution market which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6 percent between 2014 and 2018.

The live music sector in Australia remain important. However, the fluctuating Australian dollar and recent changes in the festival market means international touring is no longer a guaranteed success.

[1] Including Consumer and educational books, Consumer magazines, Filmed entertainment, Free-to-air television, Interactive games, Internet, Music, Newspapers, Radio and Subscription television.


Creative and performing arts industries contribute less than half the economic value of broadcasting, but have double the employment

Based on statistics for selected industries published by the ABS, the creative and performing arts industry is bigger than the heritage sector, in terms of total income and industry value-added. [1] However, it is smaller than the broadcasting, printing and publishing industries.

Around 37,000 people are employed in the creative and performing arts industry, which is comparable in size to the motion picture industry, and high relative to the income of the sector.[2]

The creative and performing arts industry grew in size between 2007-08 and 2009-10 across all metrics.

[1] As defined by ANZIC 2006. This includes industries engaged in performing arts operation, Creative Artists, Musicians, Writers and Performers and performing arts venue operation.

Industry value added (IVA) represents the value added by an industry to the intermediate inputs used by the industry. IVA is the measure of the contribution by businesses in the selected industry to Australia’s gross domestic product.

[2] Note that this is based on a single industry and so differs from Cunningham and Higgs’ analysis of the 2011 census (which takes into account a number of creative occupations and industries using the trident approach. See the report for more details).

Figure 36 - Industry metrics for selected cultural industries

EmploymentTotal income
($ million)
Industry value-added
($ million)
Printing (including the reproduction of recorded media)50,0009,2524,034
Publishing (except Internet and music publishing) 49,00013,1817,091
Motion picture and sound recording activities36,0006,7522,157
Broadcasting (except Internet)18,0009,3374,052
Creative and performing arts activities37,0003,5011,441
Internet publishing and broadcasting5,000947392
Library and other information services1,000209107
Heritage activities6,000705366


International Connections - Global - Overview

Australia imports more cultural goods and services than it exports

In 2008-09, Australia earned $747m through the provision of cultural goods ($584m) and cultural and recreational services ($163m) to the rest of the world. By comparison, in the same year Australia imported $3,259.9m of cultural goods and $1,329m of cultural and recreational services from overseas. [1]

[1] The ABS calculates data on Australia's international trade in services on a balance of payments basis. Please see explanatory note for ‘International Trade in Services by Country, by State and by Detailed Services Category, Financial Year’ (cat. no. 5368.0.55.003) for further details.


The value of art-related goods exports has been declining

The export of arts-related goods declined by 21 percent from 2005-06 to 2009-10. In particular, exports to the UK and USA have decreased, while the value of exports to China, Japan, Papua New Guinea and Canada has increased slightly since 2005-06.

New Zealand is our primary export market for arts-related products, including books, magazines, audio and video media, exposed photographic and cinematographic media and artistic works, and musical instruments.


Regularly funded arts organisations have increased international activity from 2010 to 2012

The estimated number of international performances and exhibitions from Key Organisations and major performing arts organisations funded by Australia Council with regular funding increased from 565 in 2010 to 1,068 in 2012.[1]

This increase has been fuelled by increased international activity for a number of organisations between 2010 and 2012.

The largest increases in number of performances from 2010 to 2012 were in Europe and North America.

[1] Arts organisations data is based on acquittal information and is subject to change based on updated data received from the Key Organisations and MPAs.

Figure 41 - Estimated number of international exhibitions and performances

Number of exhibitions352628
Number of attendances13,450,0902415,1181,448,702
Number of performances5301,0821,040
Number of attendances (paid)153,865305,470207,982
Number of attendances (unpaid)731,525435,232466,644
Total single ticket income (in 2012 dollars)3$138,156$1,496,036$517,396

[2] Shanghai Expo & Biennale of Sydney
[3] Indicative data only. Australia Council Arts Organisations Division internal reporting as optional data item


Household consumption of music - Industry - Music
Tag : value

Even in tough economic times, the music business is big business.

In 2009/10, each Australian household spent an estimated $380 on music-related goods and services, totalling over $2 billion economy-wide.  That’s more than they spent on internet charges, dental fees or domestic holiday airfares.

We all know the music industry is changing fast – but overall household spending on music is steady,  confirming the enduring importance of music to Australian communities.


Recording industry - Industry - Music
Tag : value

Australians purchased almost 100 million sound recordings in 2011, including CDs, vinyl, digital tracks and music ringtones.  Audience demand for major music performances reached over 10 million tickets in 2010/11 – generating sales of more than $1 billion.

This means Aussies are consuming music faster than ever.


Global art market - Global - Visual Arts
Tag : value

Relative to the global market for visual art, the Australian market is small. In 2011, Australian auction sales represented 0.6% of the total global auction market.

China is emerging as the largest visual arts market in the world in terms of auction sales, recording $5 billion in 2012 (41% of the global auction market) – highlighting big opportunities for Australia in the future.


The global art auction market is valued at over $12 billion, led by the US, China and the UK markets

In 2012, global art auctions generated $12.269 billion, of which $5.068 billion was generated in China and $7.2 billion in the rest of the world

Accounting for 41 percent of the global share, China has the largest share of global fine art auction turnover in 2012. The next largest markets – the USA and UK trail behind with 27 percent and 18 percent of turnover share respectively.[1]

Australia is emerging as a player on the art auction scene. While 2012 revenue was estimated by Artprice at $82 million,[2] this represents an increase on 2004 revenue.

[1]   Indexed auction records are based on Fine Art and Design catalogued auctions (paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints, watercolors, etc) recorded by, except antiques and furniture.

[2]   Note some differences in reported auction turnover for Australia exist between Artprice and Australia Art Sales Digest due to differences in definition and auction houses included in analysis.


Australia’s secondary market is small relative to the size of our economy

Art auction sales contribute considerably more to the GDP for the UK and China than Australia.

Despite growth over the years, Australia is still in the early stages with fine art auction revenue contributing to only 0.005 percent of GDP. In comparison, the secondary market is four time in Switzerland, relative to the size of its economy.


China is emerging as the largest visual arts market in terms of auction sales

China has been the leading global art auction market since 2010, with 41 percent market share in 2012 ($5.07 billion).[1]

This is $1.7 billion higher than the USA (in second place, with 27percent of global art sales) and $2.9 billion ahead of the UK (in third place, with 18percent of global art sales).

However after the rapid growth of 49 percent between 2010 and 2011, visual art auction sales in China increased more slowly (6 percent)  from 2011 to 2012. Despite this slower growth, auction sales in China continue to make up half of the top ten highest grossing artists worldwide.

[1]   Indexed auction records are based on Fine Art and Design catalogued auctions (paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints, watercolors, etc) recorded by, except antiques and furniture.


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.


Household consumption - Industry - Visual Arts
Tag : value

Australian household spending on visual arts has been growing over time.

We now spend over $100 annually on paintings, carvings and sculptures, art and craft materials, and art gallery and museum charges – a 26% increase on 2003-04 levels in real terms.


Households spend more on paintings, carvings and sculptures than computer games or tickets to sporting matches

Australian households spend almost $2.13 billion on things related to visual arts and craft each year (including cameras).

Of this, $860 million in spending relates to direct participation in visual arts, with households spending almost $550 million on paintings, carvings and sculptures, and $250 million on art and craft materials.



Spending on particular items has changed, but total spending on goods related to visual arts is steady

Overall, spending on items related to visual arts remains steady over time.

Between 2003-04 and 2009-10, spending on artworks, cameras and art and craft materials increased.

Over the same period Australian households decreased their spending on studio and other professional photography, photographic film and developing costs – changes which probably relate to the developments in digital photography.

Spending on gallery charges also decreased 22 percent to $0.14 per household per week.

Table 6 - Household spending on items related to visual arts including cameras - 2003-04 and 2009-10 (shown in 2010 dollars)

$ per week
$ per week
Change since 2003-04 (%)
Studio and other professional photography0.590.56-5%
Paintings, carvings and sculptures0.831.2551%
Art and craft materials0.550.574%
Art gallery and museum fees and charges0.180.14-22%
Cameras (excluding video cameras)1.391.4822%
Photographic equipment (excluding film and chemicals)0.22
Photographic film and chemicals (including developing)1.270.64-50%


Public galleries - Industry - Visual Arts
Tag : value

Australia’s art museums are home to 2.8 million art works. In 2007-08, they held over 2,000 special exhibitions or displays, and recorded over 2 million paid and 10 million unpaid visitors.

Our art museums and galleries also enable millions of international tourists to experience Australian culture, and fuel important economic activity through tourism. In 2009, around 30% of international visitors and 43% of domestic travellers visited a museum or gallery.


Australia’s 165 public art museums attracted almost 13 million attendances in 2008

There are an estimated 165 non-commercial galleries/museums in Australia with a visual arts focus.  In 2008, the ABS estimated that these visual arts galleries/museums made up 14 percent of all museums in Australia – with an estimated 712 social history museums, 247 historic sites and 59 other museums operating.

Art museums held over 2,000 special exhibitions or displays during 2007-08. That year they recorded 12.9 million admissions, the equivalent of 42 percent of all museum admissions reported.  Four in five of these attendances were for free exhibitions and events.

Art museums were more reliant on public funds than other museums, with government funding accounting for almost 40 percent of their income in 2007-08. However, art museums also earned more than three times the funds of other museums through sponsorship and philanthropy.

Table 2 - Summary of non-commercial art galleries/museums in Australia

Year Art museums Free attendances Paid attendances Admissions incomeOnline visits
2007-08 165 107710002177000$1960000011987000


Commercial art galleries manage over 16,000 relationships with visual artists

The ABS estimated that there were 514 commercial art galleries operating in Australia during 1999-2000. This included 31 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) art centres and 483 other commercial art galleries.

These galleries provided over 16,000 on-going ‘representations’ for visual artists.[1] The average number of artists represented by ATSI art centres was 93, compared to 29 artists for other commercial art galleries.

In 1999–2000, commercial art gallery businesses had total sales of artworks of $218 million. Two thirds of this ($145 million) related to commission income from the sale of works on behalf of others.  One third related to sales of works owned by the gallery.

Represented artists shared in over $100m in commission income generated through the sale of their artwork by commercial galleries in that year. That is equivalent to over $6,000 per represented artist.

The ABS reports that in 2007-08 commercial art galleries charged a higher average commission for the sale of Indigenous visual artworks (40 per cent), compared to the work of non-Indigenous Australian visual artists (29 percent) and those from overseas (17 percent) in 1999-2000.

[1]   Artists represented on an ongoing basis are defined as the number of artists who have an agreement with a commercial art gallery to represent them by regularly displaying or promoting the sale of their artworks. This figure includes double counting as a commercial art gallery could represent more than one visual artist. As such it is not a representation of the total visual artist population.


Secondary market - Industry - Visual Arts

Sales of works at auction reached $95 million in 2012 – around five times the market in 1991

Auction sales of visual art works in Australia reached around $95 million in 2012. These sales are understood to relate mainly to the secondary market, in which artworks are resold, and include contemporary and heritage works.[1]

Sales at auction have experienced strong growth since the 1980s – peaking at $175 million in 2007. Since 2007, total sales have fluctuated between $88 million and $115 million annually, and they remain more than 5 times the size of the market in 1991.

Australian auction turnover includes sales of works by non-Indigenous Australian artists (83 percent), Australian Indigenous artists (8 percent), and overseas artists (9 percent).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art sales have stabilised around $8.2 million, after four consecutive year of decline.  Sales remain well below the record total of $26.4 million set in 2007.

[1]   The primary market is made up of works being sold for the first time – usually in a commercial gallery.


Speculation by investors fuels price fluctuation in the secondary market

Between 1998 and 2011, the average price of works sold at auction increased markedly. Prices peaked in 2007, with the average price of works sold reaching $15,000 (64 percent higher than the 2006 average of $9,138).

Commentators suggest that speculation by investors led to a ‘market aberration’ in 2007.

Sales have since returned to pre-2007 levels. After the economic downturn in 2008, sales grew between 2009 and 2010, before stabilising in 2011 and 2012.


Government support - Support - Visual Arts
Tag : value

Government funding of $330 million ensures art museums can open their doors for free to over 10 million visitors a year. This represents a cost of $0.04 per Australian per day.

Visual arts organisations also lead the arts sector in generating private sector support for their work, generating 24% of the $221 million donations and sponsorship earned by the arts in 2009-10.


After several periods of growth public funding for visual arts has declined slightly

The ABS reports that funding for visual arts fell slightly in real terms between 2009-10 and 2010-11. Whilst local government funding levels were not reported in 2010-11, funding from the Australian and State/Territory Governments declined 7 percent to $324.7 million.

In 2009-10, when fuller data was available, ABS figures show government funding for visual arts at the national, state and local levels was almost $400 million. This represented six percent of total cultural funding and was more than the funding received by other artform areas:

  • Visual arts – $398.3m (6.0 percent)
  • Theatre – $61.2m (0.9 percent)
  • Dance – $32.4m (0.5 percent)
  • Music – $160m (2.4 percent)
  • Literature – $48.8m (0.7 percent)


ABS statistics show that funding for visual arts and craft by the Australian, State and Territory and Local Governments has grown in several periods between 1994 and 2010 – with the first drop in funding being recorded in 2009-10. Small declines were seen in 2009-10 at the Local, State and Federal levels and in 2010-11 at the State and Federal levels.


Australia’s art museums receive $330 of the $400 million in government funding for visual arts

Most funding for visual arts relates to Australia’s public art museums, including the major State art museums such as the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and other art museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and National Portrait Gallery. Government funding of $330 million was provided to art museums in 2009-10.

In 2009-10, $68.7m or 17 percent went to other parts of the visual arts sector, representing one percent of total cultural funding.

Table 8 - Government spending on visual arts and craft – all levels

Art museumsVisual arts and craftTotal funding
Australian Government ($m)90.130.6120.7
State & Territory Governments ($m)187.138.1225.2
Local Governments ($m)52.4-52.4
Total ($m)329.668.7398.3
Per person ($)15.583.117.83


Australia Council provides over $15 million funding to the visual arts sector

In 2011-12, the Australia Council invested a total of $15.7 million in the visual arts and craft sector.

Of this, $4.9 million in funding was provided by the Visual Arts Board to support a range of activities including the creation of new work, the presentation and promotion of contemporary visual arts and craft, and professional development for practitioners.

The Arts Organisations Division administered $8.7 million funding for 39 visual arts organisations during 2011-12, including the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Association for the Visual Arts.

Almost $1 million was provided to young and emerging visual artists through the Art Start program.

A further $500,000 in funding for visual arts and craft was provided through the Arts Development Division to support the development of visual artists, curators and organisations. In particular, through the Arts Development Division, the Australia Council supported the representation of 42 Australian artists at international art fairs, including the Venice Biennale.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board provided $277,000 in grants funding, including for new work and for skills and arts development.

Key projects included the 18th Biennale of Sydney’s All our Relations showcase of more than 220 works by over 100 Australian and international artists, and Hatched – Perth Institute of Contemporary Art’s annual survey of the best of Australia’s art school graduates.