Arts Participation Research

Arts participation research_main_title"More than bums on seats: Australian participation in the arts"

This 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).

Available research information

  • Full report, with detailed analysis and statistics for each artform
  • Report summary, with key findings and facts
  • Technical appendices, with survey method and questions
  • Fact sheets on specific findings and other additional information (see below)
We trust the research will stimulate debate within the community and the arts sector about new directions, new investments and the shape of future cultural policy.

This study is just the beginning. Read the summary and the full report, explore the fact sheets and join the conversation online.

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Arts participation fact sheets

How does Australia compare to other countries?

Comparing survey results between different countries is always tricky, but a preliminary analysis suggests that Australians participate in the arts at least as much as, and sometimes more than, people in other countries.

How do we feel about the arts?

This study identified four attitudinal segments which have important implications for marketing the arts. 38% are lovers of the arts, 26% are flirters, 19% are un-attached, and 17% are outsiders. Find out more about each segment, and how to increase their engagement with the arts - view the fact sheet for details.

Are there markets for Indigenous arts?

Nine out of ten Australians agreed Indigenous arts are important to our culture.

Visual arts and crafts were the most popular Indigenous art form with 9% of Australian population engaging with them. This was followed by dance and live music (each attended by 8%) and lastly theatre (4%). For more details, please view the fact sheet.

How do young people compare?

Young people in Australia are more engaged in the arts than any other age group.

They appeared to be taking advantage of the endless possibilities presented by the teaming of two opposing realms; the ‘technological’ internet and the ‘creative’ arts. Australia’s educational curriculum also had a part to play, with engagement levels shown to be higher among high school and tertiary students. For more details, please view the fact sheet.

What is the Australia Council's research program?

We aim to generate research that creates value for the arts sector, which adds new knowledge to the field, and provides insight and direction for policy, practice and innovation. We do this through undertaking and commissioning research, as well as developing strategic research partnerships.

Additional information

Research summary

Access here a 20-page summary of the arts participation research that includes key findings and facts. In a few words:

  • The arts are strongly supported by the community: 9 in 10 Australians participate in the arts.
  • The Internet is now a key tool for the arts: 1 in 3 internet users use it to research the arts.
  • Attitudes towards the arts are increasingly positive: 9 in 10 think arts should be an important part of the education of every Australian.
  • Interest in Indigenous arts is growing: 47% say their interest is increasing.
  • There are significant opportunities to build arts audiences.
This summary also includes key participation figures for each artform, statistics about attitudes to the arts, internet usage levels and more.


93percent93% of all Australians have participated in the arts

81percent81% agree that it is exciting to see new styles and types of art

84percent84% read a story, poem, biography, memoir or history book

9in1091% of population think the arts should be an important part of the education of every Australian

Contact us

For more information please get in touch with:

Bridget Jones
Director Research & Strategic Analysis

Telephone: +61 (0)2 9215 9372
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