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.
Media Releases


A new research report from the Australia Council for the Arts has found that Australians’ participation in cultural activities rivals that in organised sport.

Artswork 2: A report on Australians working in the arts shows approximately 2.9 million people – more than one in five Australians over the age of 15 – were involved in some form of paid or unpaid cultural work in 2004. Almost one million of these had some paid involvement in culture or the arts.

In 2004, around 790,000 Australian created visual art, 556,000 wrote, 424,000 participated in the performing arts and 305,000 played music.

The report also places the number of people working in a cultural occupation at 259,900 or almost three per cent of the total Australian workforce – an increase of 13 per cent in the five years to the 2001 census. Of these, around 75,100 were classified as artists.

Artswork 2 draws on Australian Bureau of Statistics research to paint a comprehensive statistical picture of the millions of Australians who are involved in amateur and professional cultural work. It is a follow-up to the original 1997 Artswork report.

Australia Council for the Arts chief executive officer, Jennifer Bott, says the Artswork 2 report illustrates the high level of engagement of Australians with the arts and culture, and the strong growth in the cultural sector that has occurred over the past decade.

“With growth of more than a third since 1997, the number of Australians participating in creative pursuits is catching up to our involvement in sporting activities. In 2004, around 4.3 million Australians were involved in organised sport,” Ms Bott said.

“Figures from other sources show that public support for the arts rivals attendance at sporting events – with more than 8.5 million adults attending arts performances and 3.6 million visiting an art gallery every year.

“This report highlights the full scope of the work done by creative Australians. These are the people who enrich our communities and whose works of art build our national culture.”

Artswork 2 also contains a number of significant facts about Australia’s arts and cultural industries:

  • Artsworkers are diverse – 28 per cent of all people working as professional artists were born overseas. More than 2500 Indigenous Australians, or 1.6 per cent of the total, work as practising professional artists.
  • Artsworkers live in major cities – 54 per cent of all working artists live either in Sydney or Melbourne. Canberra has the highest rate of participation in cultural activities, at almost 30 per cent of the population.
  • Artsworkers are well qualified – more than 60 per cent of practising professional artists have a post secondary school qualification, compared to 47 per cent of the general workforce.
  • Artsworkers are not well paid – a 2002 survey estimated that practising professional artists had an average income of $24,600 from their art. Many work a second job to supplement their income.
  • Artsworkers are mature – The average age of practising professional artists is 46 years, compared to the workforce average of less than 30.

Artswork 2 is a statistical summary of people working in Australia’s arts and cultural industries – bringing together data on their numbers, demographics, income, and education. It was prepared by the National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics in the Australian Bureau of Statistics.



Brianna Roberts


(02) 9215 9030


No downloadable contents available

You might also like