Survey: Australian Arts Participation Study Released

The results of the 2022 National Arts Participation Survey have been released today, providing an updated nationwide snapshot of Australia’s art consumption.

The survey was conducted from September to October 2022 with results drawn from a nationally representative sample of over 9000 people. It is the fifth survey in the research series from the Australia Council first conducted in 2009.

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Image © Shubham Dhage/Unsplash

The previous National Arts Participation Survey was conducted in 2019, prior to the disruptions of COVID-19. The 2022 results provide insights into Australians’ arts engagement as the country emerged from pandemic lockdowns. The many behavioural shifts brought about in those time are apparent.

Many of the results show consistency with the last survey in 2019: 97% of Australians engage with the arts, 84% acknowledge positive impacts of arts and creativity, 73% believe that First Nations arts and culture are an important part of Australia’s culture and 61% agree culture and creativity should receive public funding (all consistent with 2019).

The survey reports that 68% attended arts events or festivals in person in 2022, the same proportion as in 2019. However, it appears that Australians are now attending less frequently. Weekly attendance has dropped across all art forms and more Australians are only attending arts events every few months. The survey was conducted at the time Australia was experiencing a sharp increase in inflation, interest rates and cost of living.

Half of Australians are not attending as much as they would like to (49%, up from 42% before the COVID-19 pandemic), with cost and location continuing to be the most formidable barriers to arts attendance.

The majority of Australians continue to agree that First Nations arts are an important part of Australia’s culture (73%) and interest has remained steady (40%). However, fewer now think First Nations arts are well-represented in Australia (47%, down from 51%).

Half of Australians believe the arts benefit our wellbeing (the same as before COVID-19). However, there has been an increase in those who are attending to improve their wellbeing (from a quarter to a third), suggesting that more people may be acting on this awareness. Almost half of Australians recognise the positive benefits of creative activities and experiences on our wellbeing during COVID-19 lockdowns.

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Australians are still listening … but streaming is the preferred mode. Image © Dollar Gill/Unsplash

Almost all Australians listen to recorded music – increasingly through streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music – and more than two thirds of Australians read for pleasure, a slight decrease from 2019.

We can still count ourselves a creative nation, with almost half of Australians making art, consistent with 2019. Australians are increasingly engaging with the arts online, though a large proportion of that number report missing the atmosphere of a live event, exhibition and/or experience when viewing online.

First Nations respondents have very strong arts attendance, are among those most likely to creatively participate and are most likely of all Australians to give time or money to the arts. Almost all recognise the positive impacts of arts and creativity.

Nearly a third of Australians connect with, and share, their cultural background through arts and creativity by attending arts and cultural events and/or making art.

Respondents identifying as CALD are more likely than non-CALD respondents to attend, create art, and recognise the positive impacts of arts and creativity. CALD respondents are almost twice as likely to attend First Nations arts and cultural activities as non-CALD respondents.

Young Australians aged 15–24 value the arts and are highly engaged – close to nine in ten attend and almost half want to attend more. They are the most likely of all the age groups to creatively participate and are highly engaged with the arts online.

Respondents with disability are among those most likely to creatively participate in the arts.  However, they are less likely to attend and are underrepresented in festival audiences. They also face more barriers to arts attendance than respondents without disability and are most likely to experience difficulties getting to arts events.

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