Festivals have become a major part of Australian life and they offer a unique and valuable contribution to its culture. They range in size from small community celebrations to major cultural events, and they feature a variety of themes as diverse as flower arranging, heritage, food and wine, multicultural events, music and the arts.
An ABS survey on performing arts industries in Australia, in respect of 1999-2000, indicated that there were 152 performing arts festivals of more than two days duration. These comprised 72 music festivals and 71 multifaceted performing arts festivals, with the remaining 9 festivals focused on drama, comedy or dance. It is estimated that there were about 26,600 performing arts performances at these festivals, with total attendances estimated at 9.9 million people. Total income from these festivals was $103m. The three main sources of income were ticket sales ($42m), government funding ($27m) and fundraising income ($22m).
The ABS Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities Survey indicated that in the 12 months to April 2001, 193,900 people were involved in organising a festival of any type or duration, 24.5% of whom received some payment, and 50.3% of whom were women. In contrast, of the 317,500 people involved in fete organising, 3.9% received some payment and 73.6% were women.