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Over 16 million Australians are actively participating in the arts, according to new research released today by the Australia Council for the Arts.

ìWeíve discovered that nine out of every ten Australians aged over 15 made the arts part of their lives in the past year,î said the CEO of the Australia Council, Kathy Keele.

ìNearly three quarters of Australians attended the arts last year and, most impressively, four out of ten of us creatively participated in the arts ñ thatís over 7.2 million people exploring art around the country.î

The research provides the most comprehensive picture this century of the way Australians are involved with the arts. It covers both creative participation and attendance in all major art forms including visual arts and crafts, music, theatre, dance, reading, writing and music.

ìVisual arts and crafts is the most popular creative activity ñ 22 per cent of people did some form of painting, sewing, woodwork or art photography for example,î said Ms Keele. ìLiterature is also popular with 7 per cent  of people writing a novel or short story, and 5 per cent of people have written poetry ñ thatís almost 900,000 Australians writing poems!î

The research also shows that the arts are becoming more inclusive. Most Australians perceive the individual, social and community benefits of the arts, and agree they make life more meaningful. A comparable Australia Council survey in 1999 showed that over half of Australians felt that the arts ëattracted the somewhat pretentious and elitistí ñ but this number has now dropped to a third.

ìWe can see that the internet is having a big impact on peopleís attitudes to the arts and to their accessibility. People online are researching shows or exhibitions on their own terms. Knowing more about the works help people feel more confident about walking into a show or an exhibition.î

Young people in particular have embraced the creative possibilities of the internet. Overall, 15-24 year olds are the leading generation in creative participation, with 60 per cent creatively participating in at least one art form. This suggests future surveys may reveal a yet higher level of interest and participation in the arts.

Based on focus groups, stakeholder interviews and 3,000 Australians surveyed, this landmark research will help the arts sector understand the attitudes and values of their audiences and identify new ways to build attendance and participation.

ìWe have, for example, identified a significant new interest in Indigenous arts.  And we now know the reasons why some Australians havenít attended the arts in the last year.î

ìThis research will help our arts organisations understand their audiences better and help make what they do even more welcoming and accessible.î

More than bums on seats ñ Australian participation in the arts was conducted by instinct and reason. To find out more, or view the full report go to

For interviews with Kathy Keele and media information, please contact:

Cameron Woods, 02 9215 9030 or 0412 686 548 or



Brianna Roberts


(02) 9215 9030


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