Please note: Some of the content on this page was published prior to the launch of Creative Australia and references the Australia Council. Read more.

Creating Our Future: Results Of The National Arts Participation Survey

Aug 26, 2020

Audience Data and Advocacy Tools

The Audience Data and Advocacy Tools are a new and interactive way to engage with the results of the 2019 National Arts Participation Survey, Creating Our Future.

Developed by the Australia Council for the Arts and Lonergan Research, these tools provide new insights and opportunities to understand Australians’ engagement with and attitudes towards the arts.

Creating Our Future: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey webinar series

This webinar series is a deep dive into the main themes of the report, exploring how Australians’ increasingly value the benefits of the arts and creativity.


Creating Our Future: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey is the fourth study in the landmark research series that explores Australians’ engagement with and attitudes towards the arts.

The National Arts Participation Survey asks how Australians are engaging with arts and creativity in our daily lives. How do Australians feel about arts and creativity? How is our arts engagement changing? Do we recognise the impacts of arts and creativity in our lives and communities? How do Australians feel about public funding for the arts?

The survey was conducted in late 2019, not long before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our world, lives and the cultural and creative industries. The survey results provide a benchmark of Australians’ arts engagement before the impacts of the pandemic, providing much needed information as doors reopen, audiences are rebuilt and the cultural and creative industries are re-ignited.

The report provides vital new evidence about the essential role arts and creativity play in Australian communities, showing the arts are a public good infused and embedded in the fabric of our daily lives.

In 2019, targeted methods were used to ensure better representation of young Australiansregional and remote First Nations communitiescommunities for whom language might be a barrier to participation in the survey; and Australians with intellectual disability.

We continue to capture and grow our understanding of how people from diverse backgrounds understand, participate in and value the arts.

‘As our families, communities and nation come to terms with the uncertainty, isolation and social and economic disruption of the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the power of the arts and creativity to connect and uplift us, to reduce expenditure across health and social services and to stimulate tourism and local economies, has never been more important.’

– Dr Wendy Were, Executive Director Advocacy and Development


Watch the video


Key Findings

  • 98% of Australians are still engaging with the arts.
  • Art and creativity are highly valued and significantly more Australians now recognise the range of positive impacts on our lives, communities and our national identity.
  • As well as strong and growing support for public funding for the arts in Australia, Australians have clear priorities for investment. The top three priorities are arts in the lives of young people, access to free or low-cost events and to support health and wellbeing.
  • More Australians now agree First Nations arts are an important part of Australia’s culture and both attendance at and interest in First Nations arts were strong and growing prior to COVID-19.
  • More than one in three Australians connect with, and share, their cultural background through arts and creativity.
  • Prior to COVID-19, live arts attendance was thriving, with more than two in three Australians attending the arts in person in 2019.
  • Entertainment, social connection and understanding other perspectives and cultures were the main drivers of arts attendance. Four in ten Australian would like to attend more arts events with cost and location the main barriers to increased attendance.
  • Festivals are a part of life for many Australians and were growing in popularity prior to COVID-19.
  • More Australians are creatively participating in the arts and the majority of Australians are listening to recorded music, reading for pleasure and engaging with the arts online.

 ‘Art is a way to share…
It’s an experience with others’ cultures that allows you to experience without talking.
You bond.

– Focus group participant


Creating Our Future ‘spotlight’ sections bring together findings on key themes from across the survey results. These themes highlight the value of arts and creativity to Australians and to our nation’s future.

Click on an image below to read more about each spotlight.

Creating Our Future: Spotlight on economic value and future success

Creating Our Future: Spotlight on economic value and future success

Image caption: Colossus by Stephanie Lake Company, Arts Centre Melbourne, 2018. Credit: Mark Gambino

Australia’s arts and creativity are among our nation’s most powerful assets and will play a critical role in Australia’s future success. Results from the National Arts Participation Survey highlight the importance of arts and creativity to child development, education, local businesses and skills for the future.

Previous research has shown the arts to be powerful drivers for regional, domestic and international tourism. Australians’ strong and growing engagement with arts festivals and events prior to COVID-19 highlights the critical role for arts in reinvigorating tourism and our economy.

Creating Our Future: Spotlight on social cohesion

Creating Our Future: Spotlight on social cohesion

Image caption: Jessica Mauboy performs during the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concert at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, February 16, 2020. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Our arts and creativity reflect who we are as a nation and are crucial in understanding and shaping our sense of national identity. Arts and creativity have a unique capacity to connect us all, irrespective of our life circumstances and experiences.

The shared stories of millions of diverse peoples who now call Australia home promote mutual understanding, respect and empathy, and powerfully connect us to a global community – all Australians are enriched by the tapestry of our people.

Now, more than ever, our artists have a significant role in helping Australians navigate rapid economic, social and cultural change and in building the health of our civil society.

Creating Our Future: Spotlight on equal access to arts and creativity for all Australians

Creating Our Future: Spotlight on equal access to arts and creativity for all Australians

Bendigo Groovin the Moo – crowd shot. Credit: Mackenzie Sweetnam.

All Australians, regardless of social, physical, geographic or personal circumstances, should feel invited to connect and immerse themselves in exceptional arts experiences.

The National Arts Participation Survey highlights work still to be done in Australia to ensure that all Australians can participate fully and equitably in Australia’s cultural and creative life through the arts.

Cultural inclusion is vital to the health, wellbeing and prosperity of Australian communities and for generations to come. Inequality will be a focus of further research for the Australia Council.

Creating Our Future: Spotlight on health and wellbeing

Creating Our Future: Spotlight on health and wellbeing

Image caption: MADE Ensemble, Ballet Barre class. Credit: Sandi Sissell.

Wellbeing is a policy consideration growing in currency internationally, and Australians increasingly recognise the positive impact of arts and creativity on our wellbeing.

The arts can save expenditure and provide returns on investment across health services and social care, helping meet major challenges such as ageing, loneliness, chronic conditions and mental health.