Festivals have become a major part of Australian life and they offer a unique and valuable contribution to our culture. Community festivals throughout regional Australia are increasing both in number and popularity. 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.
Total income of these festivals was $103m. The three main sources of income were ticket sales of $42m (41% of total income), government funding of $27m (26% of total income) and fundraising income of $22m (22% of total income).
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. Of the people involved in festival organising, 50.3% were women and 49.7% were men; however, of the 317,500 people involved in fete organising, 73.6% were women and 26.4% were men. Some payment was received by 24.5% of people involved in organising festivals and 3.9% of people organising fetes.