Connecting Australians is the third major study conducted by the Australia Council for the Arts on national participation in the arts. 7,537 Australians took part in the research, which measures Australians’ engagement with the arts in 2016. The survey explores all major art forms including theatre, dance, visual arts and craft, music, literature, First Nations and cross-art form work. Unlike previous surveys in 2009 and 2013, this edition delves into festival attendance, community arts activities, and engagement with a person’s own cultural background through the arts.
The survey also provides interesting insight into current Australian attitudes towards the arts, and reaffirms the significant and increasing value the arts has on the lives of the Australian people. Over 17 million Australians, particularly young people, acknowledge the positive impact of the arts.
According to the report, 98% of Australians engage with the arts, one-in-four give time or money to the arts, and young people aged 15-24 years create and experience the arts at the highest rate.
The report notes substantial growth in online arts engagement which music – unsurprisingly – dominates, particularly amongst young people: “In 2016, 76% of Australians listed to recorded music online (including 96% of those aged 15 – 24). Music was the largest contributor to both the volume and growth of online arts engagement.”
The report notes that traditional forms of consumption have not been adversely impacted by increased online engagement. However, with music a different story emerges, and online growth may well correlate with decreasing live music attendances. While remaining the single most popular artform, music has experienced an attendance decline since the last study four years ago, down from 59 to 54 percent. Creative participation in music has also dropped five percentage points, down from 20 to 15 percent. Music Australia takes the view this decline is concerning and requires investigation and action as we have covered here.
There are other less positive trends; fewer people support arts funding and more people feel the arts are too expensive and elitist. The report suggests thus reflects prevailing community attitudes of disengagement and division.
Arts Participation – Music Snapshot
- 97 percent of Australians listened to recorded music in 2016
- 3 in 4 Australians (76%) access music online, up from 40 percent in 2013.
- music was the most common way that people engage (20%) with their own cultural background
- One in six Australians (16%) attended a first nation music event in 2016, a big increase over 2013 (10%).
- Music festivals are the most popular festivals in Australia attended by one in four Australians (27%)
- Professionally there have been increases in recorded music sales (5.5% over previous year) and performance royalties to songwriters (5% increase over two years).
- 54 percent of Australians attended live music in 2016, a five percent decrease in four years
- One in seven Australians created music in 2016 (15%), five percent down 2009 (20%).