Research projects

Research projects

The Research and Strategic Analysis team conducts research into issues of importance for the arts

The Research and Strategic Analysis team works with leading academics and research suppliers to conduct primary and secondary research on issues of importance for the arts. 


Current projects

Census Analysis of Arts Employment in Australia

The Centre for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCi) have been commissioned to update the 2010 publication ‘What’s your other job?” with the results of the 2011 census.  CCi will use the trident model to quantify employment for the arts overall, and for arts occupations and arts industries.  The report will provide an analytical overview of trends in arts employment and will be available by early 2014.


Art Facts

Aim: Establish new online information resource for the arts, featuring dynamic statistical profiles of each art form. It highlights key trends in each sector and distils the latest data from a range of Council, ABS and industry sources. The Art Facts site features key facts through the art value chain – from the creation of new work through to the audiences’ participation. ArtFacts: Music was the first artform launched, followed by ArtFacts:Visual Arts, which was launched in April 2013.

Outcome: Improved understanding of the arts statistics and key trends in the arts sector.

• For more information, visit Art Facts


Artistic Vibrancy - Community relevance

As a part of the Australia Council’s artistic vibrancy program, research is underway into how to support arts organisations to reflect on, and improve, their relevance to today’s communities.  A literature review and discussion paper has been completed as well as case studies from six MPA organisations working in this area. In 2014, the Australia Council will launch a website with resources and tools to assist arts organisations undertaking reflection and action on their relevance to communities, as well as stories from organisations who are doing innovative work in this area.

For more information, head to the Community relevance section of Hot Topics

Diversity in Cultural Expressions

As part of the Council’s Cultural Engagement Framework the Diversity in Cultural Expressions (DICE) research project will be conducted by the Institute of Culture and Society of the University of Western Sydney.  Six key works supported by the Australia Council will be evaluated in terms of their alignment with UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The research is being conducted by the University of Western Sydney Institute for Culture and Society, and will be launched in 2014.


Partnerships between the Arts and the Creative Industries

In order to encourage artists to work with the creative industries new research has been commissioned to profile key partnerships. This project aims to present an initial model of arts - creative industries collaboration, based on the analysis of five case studies of partnerships between the creative industries, artists and arts organisations.    
The research is being conducted by the Creative Industries Faculty of
Queensland University of Technology and will be completed in 2014.


Board Performance

The Council aims to gain a greater understanding of good practice in the governance of arts organisations.  Sweeny Research/Key Response is conducting interviews with a sample of 30 people (including board members, CEOs and artistic directors) of regularly funded organisations. This research will be used by Arts Organisations Division to establish a measure of board performance and inform new initiatives to support good governance.



Completed projects

Longitudinal study of early career artists

December 2013

The aim of the research was to develop understanding of the career development of early career artists. In particular, we were interested in understanding the role that arts grants play. We commissioned Urbis, an independent consultancy, to conduct the longitudinal study of early career artists. In 2010, we surveyed early career artists that had applied for a grant in 2008-2010, and followed them for a further two years (2011 and 2012).

How to Work the Crowd

July 2012

As part of Artsupport Australia’s program to support crowd funding new research was conducted into donor motivations and barriers to crowd funding, giving some indicative recommendations on ways to increase the uptake of crowd funding in the creative industries.  The study was conducted by the Creative Industries Faculty of Queensland University of Technology and launched in July 2012 at the crowd funding road show.


Women in Theatre

April 2012

The Women in Theatre research conducted by Elaine Lally from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) found whilst the concerted policy and strategy interventions of the 80s and 90s saw improvements in the representation and support of women key creative roles throughout this period; over the past decade, there’s evidence that the situation has deteriorated.

Connecting:// arts audiences online

June 2011

Aim: The study published by the Council in 2010, More than Bums on Seats: Australian’s Engagement with the Arts contained the finding that there are a significant number of Australians with positive attitudes towards the arts, but who were not attending as often as their attitude suggested. It also pointed to the growing number of Australians who are using online media to engage with the arts and facilitate their attendance.

This study consists of two parts; an online survey of 2,500 people who attended an art event in the previous year and a review of the online presence of all the regularly funded organisations supported by the Council.

Outcome: Information about how audiences currently engage with arts organisations online, and how they would like to engage in future. Practical tips and tricks to assist arts organisations to apply the research findings.

Artistic vibrancy audience impact survey

May 2011

Aim: To develop and pilot a survey tool that allows companies to explore the intrinsic impact of performances on audiences. The audience impact survey measures impacts such as captivation, emotional resonance, intellectual stimulation, social bonding and aesthetic enrichment. 

Outcomes: Arts organisations are equipped to reflect on their audience engagement, and understand the impacts of their work at a deeper level.


More than bums on seats: Australian participation in the arts

March 2010

"More than bums on seats: Australian participation in the arts" study was conducted for the Council's Research & Strategic Analysis section by instinct and reason. It paints a comprehensive picture of how Australians participate in the arts today.

This research will help arts organisations to better understand their audiences and make their art even more accessible. For policy makers, this study identifies the key factors which will impact Australians’ future participation in the arts. It also identifies barriers and incentives which impact participation.

This research aims to provide insights into the attitudes and values that influence our creative participation (where we make something ourselves) and our receptive participation (when we attend a live event, an exhibition or read literature).


Artist careers

August 2010

Two pieces of research commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts offer a comprehensive picture of the working lives of Australian artists.

Do you really expect to get paid? An economic study of professional artists in Australia (‘the artist survey’). This study is the fifth in a series commissioned by the Australia Council and conducted independently by Professor David Throsby from Macquarie University. Anita Zednik was the co-author of this study.

What’s your other job? A census analysis of arts employment in Australia (‘the census study’) analyses data from the past three Australian Population Censuses. This study was undertaken by Peter Higgs of the Centre for Creative Industries and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) under the leadership of Professor Stuart Cunningham.


Arts and creative industries

March 2011

The report, funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and prepared by Professor Justin O’Connor of the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology, looks at ways in which the policy relationship between these often polarised sectors of arts and creative industries might be re-thought and approached more productively.

The report is in two parts, commencing with An Australian conversation, in which Professor O’Connor, with Stuart Cunningham and Luke Jaaniste, document a series of in depth interviews with 18 leading practitioners across the creative industries. They discuss their perceptions of the similarities, differences and connections between the arts and creative industries. The interviews frequently returned to the fundamental question of what was meant by ‘art’ and ‘creative industries’.

The second, larger part of Arts and creative industries, addresses this question through an extensive review of the discussions of art and its relation to society and culture over the last few centuries.  A historical overview highlights the importance that art has had in developing our comprehension of the modern world.  It also examines the enthusiasm for the creative industries over the last 15 years or so and the impact this has had on creative policy-making.

Arts and creative industries suggests there is no dividing line between publicly-funded arts, popular culture and the blossoming businesses of the creative sector – and national policy should reflect this.

This study was commissioned by the Australia Council as part of a long-running and productive relationship between the council and the ARC Centre of Excellence on Creative Industries and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology.

Arts and business: partnerships that work

July 2010

A joint research project of the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australia Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) provides a 2010 update on arts partnerships and the corporate processes behind arts-business relationships.

This qualitative study conducted by Repucom International for the Australia Council and AbaF examines the perceptions and preferences of partnership decision-makers at 36 businesses around Australia. It includes both businesses that currently support the arts and businesses that support other sectors.


Artistic vibrancy resources

December 2009

The Australia Council for the Arts has become one of the world’s first funding agencies to tackle the issue of how to measure the artistic vibrancy of the companies it funds.

The research team has an ongoing program of work around artistic vibrancy.  There are a suite of published resources on meaningful ways to evaluate artistic impact, which go beyond box ticking.  These include:

  1. Defining artistic vibrancy: a discussion paper
  2. 'Tell me honestly…': good practice case studies of artistic self-assessment in performing arts organisations
  3. Artistic Reflection Kit: a guide to assist organisations to reflect on artistic vibrancy
  4. Meaningful measurement: a review of the literature about measuring artistic vibrancy.

A case for literature: the effectiveness of subsidies to Australian publishers 1995-2005

October 2010 

The research project sought to establish the extent to which the Literature Board’s publishing subsidy program has been effective in maintaining quality and creating value in its support of the publication of Australian literary titles. 

It assessed the contribution that the publishing subsidy program made, in the period 1995-2005, to Australian literary culture, in its support of particular genres, its assistance to the publication of individual titles and its role in establishing and maintaining the literary careers and reputations of Australian authors. The research undertaken combined the methodologies of interview, case study and statistical analysis.


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