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.
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.
We found 9% of Australians over 15 years of age attended an Indigenous visual arts and craft event in 2009 – equivalent to over 1.66 million people.
Looking at the arts overall, attitudes to Indigenous art are increasingly positive. Almost half of all Australians (47%) say their interest in Indigenous art is growing. A further 17% say they already have a strong interest and will continue to.
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
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.
The very nature of visual arts attendance is more spontaneous than attendance for other art events and there is often no need to plan or research the event prior to attending (particularly since attendance at most events does not require a booking). As such visual arts attendees were less likely to engage online before, during or after the event.
However, visual arts festival attendees were more likely than other visual arts attendees to engage online before and after the event. For example, visual arts festival attendees were more likely to engage in online word of mouth before (36 percent vs. 22 percent) and after (37 percent vs. 26 percent) the event.
Craft festival and fair attendees were also more likely than other visual arts attendees to engage in online word of mouth before (39 percent vs. 22 percent), but less likely to do this after the event (18 percent vs. 26 percent).
With current low levels of online engagement, private gallery attendees were interested in the prospect of accessing online images and videos before attending events in future.
Table 7 - Use of the internet at each stage of the 'attendance journey' - arts attendees and visual arts and craft attendees
|Total arts attendees||Visual arts attendees|
|At the event||31%||29%|
|After the event||66%||60%|
A small proportion of visual arts event attendees (such as visitors to a gallery or attendees at craft fairs) used the internet at events in 2010.
However, there was strong interest to do so in future. Key areas of interest include:
- Finding out more information about events and artists
- Receiving information from event organisers
- Engaging with the creators or contributing to the event.
1.2 million kids do arts and crafts for fun, and almost 2 million adults make crafts like woodwork, jewellery and ceramics.
Creating visual arts and crafts is also the most popular form of creative activity by Australians, with one in five participating.
This makes craft more popular than Twitter, which has 1.2 million users in Australia.
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).
In 2012, over 43% of children aged 5 to 14 did arts and craft as a recreational activity outside of school hours.
Similar numbers of kids visit museums and galleries each year (43%), making visual arts one of the most common way children engage with the arts.
The ABS 2012 study of children’s participation in culture and leisure activities found that 43 percent of children participated in recreational art and craft activities outside of school hours, while seven percent of children participated in organised art and craft outside of school hours.
Girls were more likely than boys to participate in art and craft activities (54 percent vs. 33 percent). Girls also spent more time on average than boys on these activities in the weeks before the survey.
The study showed older children were less likely to participate in arts and craft activities. Participation decreased from 57 percent children aged five to eight to 26 percent of children aged 12 to 14.
The decrease in participation rates with age is more marked than for other recreational activities such as reading for pleasure and bike riding.
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.