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Australians Participating in the Arts

3 March 2010 at 12:27 pm
Staff Reporter
Its more than bums on seats – more Australians are actively participating in the arts, according to new research.

Staff Reporter | 3 March 2010 at 12:27 pm


Australians Participating in the Arts
3 March 2010 at 12:27 pm

Its more than bums on seats – more Australians are actively participating in the arts, according to new research.

Over 16 million Australians are actively participating in the arts rather than just being ‘bums on seats’, according to new research released by the Australia Council for the Arts.

CEO of the Australia Council, Kathy Keele says the research discovered that nine out of every ten Australians aged over 15 made the arts part of their lives in the past year.

Keele says nearly three quarters of Australians attended the arts last year and, most impressively, four out of ten creatively participated in the arts which equates to over 7.2 million people exploring art around the country.

She says the research provides the most comprehensive picture this century of the way Australians are involved with the arts.

It covers both creative participation and attendance in all major art forms including visual arts and crafts, music, theatre, dance, reading, writing and music.

Keele says visual arts and crafts is the most popular creative activity. For example 22 per cent of people did some form of painting, sewing, woodwork or art photography.

Literature is also popular with 7 per cent of people writing a novel or short story, and 5 per cent of people have written poetry – almost 900,000 Australians writing poems!

The research also shows that the arts are becoming more inclusive. Most Australians perceive the individual, social and community benefits of the arts, and agree they make life more meaningful. A comparable Australia Council survey in 1999 showed that over half of Australians felt that the arts "attracted the somewhat pretentious and elitist" – but this number has now dropped to a third.

Kathy Keele says the research shows that the internet is having a big impact on people’s attitudes to the arts and to their accessibility.

People online are researching shows or exhibitions on their own terms.

Young people in particular have embraced the creative possibilities of the internet. Overall, 15-24 year olds are the leading generation in creative participation, with 60 per cent creatively participating in at least one art form. This suggests future surveys may reveal a yet higher level of interest and participation in the arts.

Based on focus groups, stakeholder interviews and 3,000 Australians surveyed, the Australia Council says the landmark research will help the arts sector understand the attitudes and values of their audiences and identify new ways to build attendance and participation.

Keele says it has, for example, identified a significant new interest in Indigenous arts as well as identifying the reasons why some Australians haven’t attended the arts in the last year.

The full report called More than bums on seats – Australian participation in the arts can be downloaded at

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