Quick Facts

Quick Facts

This page list some key facts and research you can use to emphasise the importance of the arts and back up your advocacy work. This is a work in progress and new entries will continue to be added. 


31.4% of adults and 96.6% of 5-14 year olds participated (rather than just attending or observing) in artistic/ cultural creation or performance in 2017. [SOURCE] 

  • 98% of Australians engage with the arts. 16% are involved in community arts. 68% attend live events.
  • One in two Australians believe the arts build creative skills that will be necessary for the future workforce.
  • 73% of Australians believe that artists make an important contribution to Australian society.
  • Australians have clear priorities for arts investment. The top two priorities are ensuring young people have access to art and creative experiences to support their learning and development (74% ranked this in their top three priorities for public or private investment), and ensuring free or low-cost events are available (68%). More than half of Australians think funding should ensure art and creative experiences are available to support our health and wellbeing.
  • In terms of barriers to engaging with the arts, 34% of Australians said cost of ticket/entry, 25% said too far away/not near where I live, and 19% said difficulty getting there. [SOURCE] 
the Economy

In 2016-17, Australia’s broad cultural and creative economy contributed 6.4% of our annual GDP, and employs 8.1% of Australia’s workforce (pre-pandemic). [SOURCE] 

Australia’s cultural investment is not keeping pace with our international peers: in 2018, in an analysis of OECD members, Australia ranked 24th out of 34 member countries for combined expenditure on culture, recreation and religion. Nor are we keeping up with our own population growth: per capita public investment in culture dropped 4.9% in the period 2007-2017. [SOURCE] 

Australians are significant consumers of culture, investing nearly $50 a week, on average, on cultural expenditure in 2015-16. The Australian public’s private spending of more than $25 billion per annum dwarfs the cultural expenditure by the three levels of government in the same year ($5.8 billion). [SOURCE] 

Using the ABS definition, Australian cultural and creative industries contributes $91 billion per annum (5.25% of GDP), and employs 9,849,161 people (8.1% of total employment). Including only “arts and culture” (and excluding design and fashion), it contributes $30.4 billion per annum (1.7% of GDP), and employs 236,930 people (2.2% of total employment). [SOURCE] 

  • 47% of Australians reported feeling society is broken in 2017 and again in 2019. 
  • 36% felt like a stranger in their own country in 2017. 
  • 1 in 4 of Australians reported frequent feelings of loneliness in 2018. [SOURCE] 

How arts and culture helps build a more cohesive society:

  • Build feelings of community, belonging, and trust 
  • Enhance empathy and inclusion 
  • Help combat the growing issues of loneliness and isolation 
  • Help individuals and communities to recover from disasters and trauma 
  • Increase civic participation 
  • Make cities, suburbs and regions more liveable. [SOURCE] 

Research indicates that investing in programs and activities that ensure all Australians have opportunities to access a broad variety of arts and cultural experiences from a young age, irrespective of their family’s location or financial position, can help to break down social inequities. [SOURCE] 

Health and Wellbeing

Social and economic factors contribute to 40% of determinants for health outcomes (includes social support, education, job status, income and community safety). Others are health behaviours, 30%; health care, 20%; and physical environment, 10%. [SOURCE] 

A ground breaking 2003 study of approximately 500 individuals aged 75 and older found that reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments, and dancing were associated with a lower risk of dementia. Follow up studies since 2003 have supported this finding. [SOURCE] 

Arts and cultural engagement has been shown to: 

  • enhance social inclusion
  • reduce loneliness
  • increase confidence
  • improve feelings of self-worth. 

These outcomes, in turn, have a direct and positive impact on both physical and mental health. In fact, in 2016 Australian researchers produced the first dose-response-style study of arts and mental health, showing that two-hour “doses” of creative activities per week could enhance mental wellbeing in a general population. [SOURCE] 

  • 74% of young people surveyed reported that their mental health was worse since the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • 86% of young people surveyed reported a negative impact on their mood, wellbeing or sleeping.
  • 77% of young people surveyed reported a negative impact on their work, study, or financial situation.
  • 50% of young people reported that COVID-19 had an impact on their confidence achieving future goals.
  • 86% of young people reporting using activities and hobbies as a way of coping with the COVID-19 situation.
  • Young people’s resilience needs to be reinforced and enhanced. [SOURCE] 
Education and Learning

Research shows that Australian students who actively engaged with arts, culture and creative activities had higher levels of motivation and self-discipline, better self-esteem, higher life satisfaction and were better at bouncing back from academic setbacks. [SOURCE] 

Research shows that US students who chose a creative elective (visual arts, drama, music or dance) in grades 6 or 7 had a higher overall GPA in that year and in following years compared with their peers, no matter what their GPA was in grades 1-5. [SOURCE] 

US students from low-income families who participated in arts and culture at school were: three times more likely to earn a university degree; twice as likely to volunteer; and 20% more likely to vote as young adults. [SOURCE] 

  • Quality arts education has distinct benefits for children’s health and socio-cultural well-being.
  • Benefits of arts-rich programs are only tangible within high quality programs.
  • Quality arts education programming tends to be characterised by a strong partnership between the schools and outside arts and community organisations. [SOURCE] 

It is now widely documented in the United States of America, Canada and Europe, including the United Kingdom, that those students whose learning is embedded in the Arts achieve better grades and overall test scores, are less likely to leave school early, rarely report boredom and have a more positive self concept than those students who are deprived of arts experiences. The Arts:

  • provide ways of engaging those students who were otherwise difficult to engage
  • connect students to themselves, to each other as well as to the world
  • transform the learning environment itself, and importantly
  • challenge those students who were already successful. [SOURCE] 

Major findings on the positive effects derived by those involved in arts-rich education programs include:

  • positive achievements in reading, language and mathematics development
  • evidence of increased higher order thinking skills and capacities
  • evidence of increased motivation to learn
  • improvements in effective social behaviours [SOURCE] 

The intrinsic benefits of the arts include:

  • the pleasure and emotional stimulation of a personal, ‘felt’ response
  • captivation by an imaginative experience
  • an expanded capacity for empathy leading to the potential for creating social bonds and shared experiences of art
  • cognitive growth in being able to make sense of art
  • the ability to find a voice to express communal meaning through art. [SOURCE]