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Culture & the Arts: Interests in the arts & cultural activities
ATTENDANCE(a) AT CULTURAL VENUES, 1995
Source: Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues, March 1995 (cat. no. 4114.0).
Cultural activities contribute to the quality of life, and take many forms. They can range from taking a stroll through a botanical garden to watching an opera or ballet performance.
Around 11.7 million people (83% of all people aged 15 years and over) had been to at least one of the cultural venues and activities included in the supplementary questions in the Monthly Population Survey referring to the 12 months to March 1995. The most popular cultural venue was the cinema, with 8.7 million people (62% of the population) having gone to the cinema in the 12-month reference period. Other venues which were popular included botanical gardens, which had been visited by 39% of the population, libraries (38%) and animal and marine parks (35%).
ATTENDANCE RATES AT CULTURAL VENUES BY AGE, 1995
For each type of cultural venue identified in the 1995 survey, women had a higher attendance rate than men. The difference was most marked for libraries (44% of women had been to a library compared with 32% of men) and opera and music theatre (24% and 15% respectively).
Attendance rates for people living in capital cities were higher than those living elsewhere for each of the venues (except those included in the category 'other performing arts', which were not separately identified). To some extent, these differences would arise because some venues are more accessible to people living in capital cities. For example, most zoos and major botanical gardens are located in the capital cities. Similarly, performances such as operas and musicals may be staged only in capital cities.
The slightly higher attendance rate of people living outside the capital cities at other performing arts (20%, compared with 18% of those in capital cities) was mainly due to their higher attendance at circuses (11% and 6% respectively).
In general, attendance rates at venues were highest for people in the younger to middle age groups, with persons 65 years and over usually participating at much lower rates than people in other age groups.
People aged 15-17 years had the highest attendance rates at theatre (27%) and the cinema (90%); those aged 18-24 were most likely to attend popular music concerts (49%); and those aged 25-34 had the highest attendance rate at animal and marine parks (47%). This age group contains a substantial number of people with young children.
People aged 35-44 years had the highest attendance rate at museums (35%), possibly because they take their teenage children there (those aged 15-17 also had a high attendance rate, 33%). Older people aged 45-54 years had the highest attendance rates at art galleries (27%), classical music concerts (11%), and opera or music theatre (25%).
Attendance rates also varied according to country of birth. Overseas-born people were more likely to visit a botanical garden (41% compared with 37% for Australian-born people). On the other hand, Australian-born people were more likely to go to cultural activities such as popular music performances (28% compared with 23% for overseas-born people) and the cinema (65% compared with 54%).
The number and location of cultural venues varies according to the type of venue (for example, cinemas are located in most regions), and travelling time can be an important factor in deciding whether to attend an arts event.
Travel time to the cinema appeared to be the shortest. About 91% of those living in metropolitan areas said they were able to get to a cinema within half an hour; the equivalent figure for rural dwellers was 74%. Performing arts venues were the next most convenient - 61% of metropolitan residents said they could reach their performing arts venue within half an hour, compared with 57% of rural residents.
Art galleries were recorded as the least accessible, with 51% of people in metropolitan areas, and 61% in rural areas living within half an hour of their nearest gallery.
PEOPLE WITH PAID INVOLVEMENTS IN CULTURE/LEISURE ACTIVITIES(a), 1997
(b) As a person can work in more than one activity, the sum of involvements exceeds the total number of persons involved.
Source: Work in Selected Culture/Leisure Activities, Australia, March 1997 (cat. no. 6281.0)
Numbers undertaking cultural work
Excluding involvements undertaken solely as a hobby (some 2.6 million people), the ABS Survey of Work in Selected Culture/Leisure Activities found that in the 12-month period to March 1997, 2.2 million people (15% of all people aged 15 years and over) had undertaken some work in at least one of the culture/leisure activities listed in the table opposite. Many of these people did these activities on a voluntary basis, and often for only a short period of time.
The number of people who received some payment for their work in these activities totalled 877,000 - 523,400 (60%) received payment for work done as part of their main job. This included 127,500 people who had a writing involvement as part of their main job (e.g. a journalist or author) and 116,800 people whose design work was part of their main job (e.g. a graphic, interior or fashion designer). Another 109,800 people taught cultural activities as part of their main job.
Some paid cultural activities were more likely to be associated with a main job than others. Those where a high proportion formed part of a main job included jobs in libraries and archives (83% of involvements were part of a main job), design (72%), electronic art (72%) and print-making (71%). Paid cultural activities that were least likely to be part of a main job included those involved in music (28%) and the performing arts (36%).
What is meant by 'the arts'?
'The arts' is an umbrella term, which people interpret differently. The November 1997 Population Survey Monitor, which asked questions about attitudes to the arts, showed that people included different activities in their definition of 'the arts'. When presented with a list of activities, about eight in ten people included more traditional forms of cultural expression such as plays, ballet, opera (81%) and music (80%), while fewer than four in ten (35%) included architecture and design.
Activities included in 'the arts' varied between people in different age groups, and also depended on their level of education. Those with a bachelor degree or higher, and those in the younger and middle age groups (18-34 and 35-54), included a wider range of activities as part of the arts than others.
ACTIVITIES THAT PEOPLE INCLUDED IN 'THE ARTS', 1997
The importance of cultural venues in communities
Despite varying opinions about what was considered to be 'the arts', most people thought it was important to have cultural venues in their communities. More than nine in ten (95%) of the population rated libraries as important or very important, and more than seven in ten thought the other venues included in the survey (museums, performing arts venues and art galleries) were either important or very important.
This statement of support came from people whether or not they attended or used these facilities. For example, among those people who had not been to an art gallery in the previous 12 months, 65% rated them as being important or very important in their community, while 92% of those who had not been to a library rated libraries in the same way.
IMPORTANCE OF CULTURAL VENUES(a), 1997
Source: Public Attitudes to the Arts, Australia, November 1997 (cat. no. 4157.0), jointly published with the Australia Council.
Funding for cultural activities and services
Most people were also in favour of governments providing some financial support for the arts and cultural facilities. Libraries were the most supported of the four services and activities that were identified in the survey. Over 90% of the population believed libraries should receive some government funding, while more than half the population thought live theatre, art galleries and orchestras were also deserving of financial assistance.
Governments support a wide range of cultural activities and venues. For example, zoological and botanic gardens, museums and historic sites along with art galleries and libraries are all supported. Government funding for 'cultural facilities and services' (facilities included are listed in table above) totalled $1,568 million in 1996-97. Of this, approximately 16% ($253 million) was provided by the Commonwealth Government, 48% ($752 million) by the State and Territory governments and 36% ($564 million) by local government. The largest proportion (44%) of government funding for cultural activities and services was directed to libraries. This was followed by museums (14%) and performing arts venues and arts centres (12%).
GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR CULTURAL FACILITIES AND SERVICES, 1996-97
Being well-informed about the arts
Most people surveyed in the 1997 PSM believed they were well-informed about sport but many thought they were less informed about the arts. A quarter of the population (25%) felt they were not adequately informed about the arts, whereas only 7% said they were not adequately informed about sport. These opinions varied between men and women. Women were more likely than men to say they were not well-informed about 'the arts' (28% and 21%, respectively). However, a higher proportion of men (22%) than women (14%) said they had no interest in the arts.
The most commonly used sources of information about the arts were newspapers, magazines or books (69%). Television (63%) was used slightly less as a source, and only one third (35%) of the population said that radio was a primary source for information about arts activities.
1. Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs 1997, Higher Education Student Statistics, 1997 (unpublished data) (excludes enrolments in courses such as arts therapy and arts teaching).
2. National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd. 1997, Australian Vocational Education Training Statistics, 1997 (unpublished data).