Data Snapshot

Research and data are fundamental for evidence-based policy development, informed decision-making, effective planning, and the efficient use of resources for service delivery. Research and data are also important for advocacy reasons, in terms of promoting and understanding the value and impact of the arts.

The following statistics give a brief overview of the ACT arts ecology. Note that data will be added and update when available.

Participation in and access to the arts

  • The ACT has the highest attendance rate at cultural venues and events (93.6%) than any other jurisdiction in Australia (Source: Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events 2013-14, Australian Bureau of Statistics).
  • The ACT has the highest cultural participation rate (38.5%) than any other jurisdiction in Australia (Source: Participation in Selected Cultural Activities 2013-14, Australian Bureau of Statistics).
  • There were 36 targeted inclusion programs in artsACT-funded organisations in 2015 (Source: artsACT SmartyGrants).

Great art and great artists

  • 14 artsACT-funded arts activities were presented nationally and three artsACT-funded arts activities were presented internationally in 2015 (Source: artsACT SmartyGrants).
  • Close to 729,000 domestic and 128,000 international cultural tourists visited the ACT in the year to September 2014. (Source: Events: Drivers of Regional Tourism, Tourism Research Australia, 2014).
  • Arts and culture is the biggest driver of visitation to the ACT (Source: Visitor Perceptions of the ACT, Tourism Research Australia and Visit Canberra contracted BDA Marketing Planning, 2014).

Vitality of the Canberra Region arts ecology

  • There were 6,937 persons employed in the arts and cultural sector as their main job in the ACT in 2011 (Source: Census, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).
  • As of June 2014, the ACT had nearly 1,200 active businesses in the creative industries  (Source: Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Australian Bureau of Statistics).
  • Almost one third (76,500) of all people living in the ACT undertake some paid or unpaid work in culture and leisure activities (Source: Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities 2007, Australian Bureau of Statistics).
  • In 2015, there were 504 volunteers at artsACT-funded organisations, who worked for 17,659 hours. (Source: artsACT SmartyGrants)
  • Canberrans spend approximately $211 million per year on arts and culture, which is a higher per capita level than other capital cities (Source: Household Expenditure Survey 2009-10, Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Engage with  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultures

  • More than half (68.2%) of Indigenous people living in the ACT are involved in selected cultural events, ceremonies or organisations (Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014-15, Australian Bureau of Statistics,).
  • There were 64 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons employed in cultural occupations for their main job in the ACT in 2011 (Source: Census, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).
  • Three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were supported through the ACT Arts Fund in 2015 at a total of $6,000 (Source: artsACT SmartyGrants).
  • There were 17 targeted programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in artsACT-funded organisations in 2015 (Source: artsACT SmartyGrants).
Australia Council's National Arts Participation Survey

The ACT findings are below. The full reports are available on the Australia Council for the Arts website

Impacts of the arts

More Australians now recognise the many positive impacts the arts have on our daily lives and in our communities, including on our wellbeing and happiness, and ability to think creatively and develop new ideas.

In 2016, the majority of ACT residents felt the arts have a ‘big’ or ‘very big’ impact on:

  • their understanding of other people and cultures; and child development (both 74%)
  • stimulating their minds (72%)
  • their ability to express themselves (71%)
  • their ability to think creatively and develop new ideas (70%)
  • their sense of wellbeing and happiness (66%).

Attitudes about the arts

Australians believe that the arts reflect and contribute to society, to identity and to Australia’s international reputation. The arts give life meaning and Australians are proud of their artists.

Almost nine in ten ACT residents agree that:

  • First Nations arts are an important part of Australia’s culture (87%)
  • the arts make for a richer and more meaningful life (85%).

Around eight in ten ACT residents agree that:

  • the arts should be an important part of the education of every Australian (84%)
  • artists make an important contribution to Australian society (81%)
  • the arts in Australia reflect the diversity of cultures present in Australia (77%)
  • the arts are an important way to get different perspectives on a topic or issue (75%).

Around seven in ten ACT residents agree that:

  • the arts should receive public funding (71%)
  • artists should have total freedom of expression (68%)
  • the arts allow them to connect to others (65%).

Giving to the arts

The high value that Australians place on the arts is reflected in the time and money they give to support artists, arts organisations and arts projects.

One in three ACT residents give time or money to the arts (34%).

  • In 2016, 17% of ACT residents volunteered for the arts or helped artists or community groups with arts activities;
  • 15% donated money;
  • 13% joined an arts organisations membership program; and
  • 13% donated to a crowdfunding campaign.

The arts and cultural diversity

For the first time in 2016, the National Arts Participation Survey collected data on engagement with the arts as part of Australians’ cultural backgrounds.

One in three ACT residents engage with their cultural background through the arts (31%). In 2016, visual arts and craft was the most common way ACT residents engaged (22%); followed by music or theatre (both 19%); creative writing (10%); and dance (8%).

More Australians are attending First Nations arts across art forms, reflecting the high quality work of First Nations artists and initiatives to build audiences for First Nations arts. One in three ACT residents attend First Nations arts (34%). In 2016, 24% of ACT residents attended First Nations visual arts and craft; 18% attended dance; 17% attended music; 15% attended First Nations storytelling; and 12% attended First Nations theatre.

Data available for the first time shows that the community arts and cultural development (CACD) sector is a leader in the use of the arts to support social cohesion, enabling diverse voices to be heard and connected through creating art. In 2016, 17% of ACT residents were involved in CACD activities that actively engaged community members in decision making and creation of art in collaboration with professional artists.

Arts attendance

Attending arts experiences in person enables Australians to come together as audiences and connect with artists in unmediated ways.

Four in five ACT residents attend the arts (78%). In 2016, almost two thirds of ACT residents attended theatre (63%); more than half attended visual arts (56%) or live music (52%); more than a third attended dance (37%); and one quarter attended literature events (25%).

Data available for the first time show that two in five ACT residents attend arts festivals (39%). In 2016, more than a quarter of ACT residents attended multi-art form festivals (27%) or music festivals (26%); 18% attended theatre or dance festivals; 16% attended visual arts festivals; 10% attended literature festivals; and 9% attended First Nations festivals.

Creative participation in the arts

Despite our busy lives, Australia remains a creative nation.

Almost half of ACT residents creatively participate in the arts (47%). ACT residents are more likely to attend theatre (63%) than other Australians (41%). In 2016, three in ten created visual arts and craft (29%); and around two in ten participated in creative writing (21%), music (16%) or theatre (15%).

Listening and reading

Listening to music and reading are vital, accessible and popular ways that Australians engage with the arts.

Almost all ACT residents intentionally listen to recorded music (98%). In 2016, 92% listened to music they owned; 88% listened via the radio/television; and 77% listened through paid or free online streaming services.

More than nine in ten ACT residents read creative writing (93%). In 2016, 76% of ACT residents read novels; 60% read creative non-fiction; 39% read short stories; 12% read graphic novels or comics; and 12% read poetry.

Online engagement

Across Australia, online engagement with the arts is booming. Online activity is creating new opportunities to collaborate and share, and connecting artists and audiences.

More than four in five ACT residents engage with the arts online (83%). In 2016, 77% listened to music online; 44% researched or reviewed the arts or artists; 30% viewed visual arts, music, dance, theatre or creative writing online; and 9% created, learned to create or sold art online.

More than one in three ACT residents use Facebook to connect with and learn about the arts or artists (36%); 29% use YouTube (29%; and 28% use the website of an artist or arts organisation.

Image: ACT infographic courtesy of the Australia Council.

ABS Jurisdiction Profile

The Australian Capital Territory profile provides a comprehensive overview of arts and culture on a range of topics including participation in cultural activities, cultural funding by government, employment in culture, and attendances at cultural venues and events. ACT profile data used to compile the profile.

Published 20  April 2017.

Links to other sources of useful data

Cultural Data Online provides access to a broad range of research relating to arts and culture in Australia, including publications and external web links to data on employment, funding, participation and attendance at cultural venues and events, and cultural tourism.

Arts Nation is the home for the Australia Council’s research and knowledge management.

Fact Finders is Screen Australia's comprehensive statistics on the production and release of feature films, TV drama, documentary and other screen content in Australia.