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Newsletters - National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics (NCCRS) - October 2006



There is a variety of culture and recreation data coming out over the next six months, as described later in this newsletter. These outputs include some updated data, such as culture and sports attendance, and also some new data, such as information relating to social capital and information about barriers to and motives for sports participation.

If you are interested in Indigenous arts and culture, I strongly encourage you to read our recent publication which brings together everything we know about this topic from ABS data sources. The publication has a slightly different format to standard ABS products in that it poses questions about the subject matter, some of which can only partly be answered from existing data. Hence, the publication includes discussion of the data limitations.

Another recent publication reported on in this newsletter concerns the sports industries. I particularly thank our ABS colleagues in the Service Industries Survey (SIS) team for their recent efforts in both culture and sports industry statistics. A review of the SIS program completed earlier this year provided good opportunities for client input. More recently, there has been consultation with clients in preparation for the upcoming culture industry surveys (Film, TV and Video Production; Performing Arts Venues; Performing Arts, Music and Theatre).

While our work within Australia is fully absorbing, and always takes priority, we have made some recent efforts to better link with international work in culture and recreation research and statistics. The OECD is involved in a cultural statistics project to which we have had input, and they are hosting a workshop in Paris in December 2006. While we are unable to attend, I was fortunate to travel to Ottawa, Canada and Washington DC during September. During this trip I had fruitful meetings with staff of the Canadian Department of Cultural Heritage, Sport Canada, Statistics Canada, the Smithsonian Institute and the Library of Congress. There is nothing like a live visit to help establish good relationships with colleagues overseas. We are also soon to be visited by a representative of the Planning Division of the Singapore National Arts Council. It is vital for our small team to develop and maintain connections with international statisticians and researchers in the field, but it is also a challenge to afford the time and travel. Thank goodness for email and the Internet!

As always, we are very grateful to our key clients and funding partners for their support and input to our work. The Standing Committee on Recreation and Sport Research Group is currently working on developing a research program, and we hope to work with them to formulate a viable plan supporting an ongoing role for NCCRS in sport and recreation statistics for the three years to 2009–10. The Cultural Ministers Council recently committed to funding to support the work of NCCRS in cultural statistics for the three years to 2008–09. At the October meeting of the Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group, the outgoing chair, Mr Alastair Bryant (Director General, WA Department of Culture and the Arts) was fondly farewelled. He has departed with a promise of continuing his commitment to research and statistics in this field. The new chair, Ms Leigh Tabrett (Deputy Director-General, Arts Queensland Department of Education and the Arts) was welcomed, and we very much look forward to her leadership.

To sum up, it has been a very positive start to the financial year, and we expect big challenges with many projects in early stages. My thanks go to the small team of NCCRS staff for their continuing commitment and energy. If you have any questions about culture and recreation data, I encourage you to get in touch with us.

Lisa Conolly


A number of surveys relating to sport and culture have been completed recently and the results will be released towards the end of this year and early in 2007.

Children's participation

The survey of Children's Participation in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities was conducted in April this year and was a repeat of a similar survey conducted in 2000 and 2003. The survey output will present information about the organised culture and leisure activities in which children aged 5–14 participate after school hours. These activities include music, drama, dancing, singing and playing a variety of sports. Information will also be presented regarding children's participation in non-organised leisure activities after school hours. These include bike riding, skateboarding, watching television and videos, playing computer games, other computer usage, arts and crafts activities, and reading for pleasure. In addition, the 2006 survey was the first to include questions about homework and about attendance at art galleries, libraries and live theatre. The results of the survey will be published in ABS catalogue number 4901.0 in mid-December.

Sports and cultural attendance

Attendance at sporting events and at selected cultural venues and events were surveyed as separate topics over 2005-06. The cultural attendance survey requested information regarding attendance at art galleries, museums, zoological parks and aquariums, botanic gardens, libraries, classical music concerts, popular music concerts, theatre performances, dance performances, musicals and operas, other performing arts, and cinemas. The results of this survey – and of the sports attendance survey – will be published in ABS catalogue numbers 4114.0 and 4174.0 respectively in late January 2007.

Participation in sport and physical activities

The survey on participation in sport and physical activities contains a number of new questions designed to assist in understanding patterns in participation. As well as the existing question on the frequency of participation (number of times participated) in each activity, an additional question was included asking for the months of participation. This will enable a more refined measure of the regularity of participation to be derived. For example, persons who participated 105 times or more during the twelve-month reference period, and who also participated in each month of the year, can be identified as regular participants.

The survey also included a module of questions on barriers to, and motives for, participation. When combined with information about the characteristics of participants and non-participants, the answers to these questions may be used to assist in the development of policies and programs that aim to increase participation by persons in defined target groups. Participation in sport and physical activities data will be published in ABS catalogue number 4177.0 in mid February 2007.

General Social Survey

This survey was conducted in early 2006. It contains many similar questions to the previous survey (conducted in 2002) but has been developed to include a wider range of indicators of social and community capital and wellbeing. Notable among these is a significantly enhanced module of questions about volunteering. The survey also includes questions about participation in sport, and about attendance at sporting and cultural venues and events. These are included as subsets of broader questions about social engagement and participation in other social activities.

For participation in sport, and attendance at sporting and cultural venues and events, the results of the General Social Survey will enable the identification of any relationships which exist with other social indicators such as feelings of safety, contact with family and friends, access to transport, and community support networks. The summary of results from this survey is expected to be released in late February 2007.


The ABS publication Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: Involvement in Arts and Culture, 2001 and 2002 (cat. no. 4721.0) was released in August 2006. This report provides information on various aspects of involvement in culture, the arts and cultural heritage by Indigenous Australians, and draws together data from the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, the 2002 General Social Survey, the 2001 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey, and the 2001 Census of Population and Housing.

Some of the main findings of the report are
  • over one-quarter of Indigenous people had participated in Indigenous creative arts during the previous twelve–month period
  • Indigenous people earned, on average, less for their employment in the arts than non-Indigenous people
  • Indigenous people in remote areas were likely to be more reliant on Indigenous creative arts as a source of income
  • in non-remote areas, Indigenous adults were less likely to attend museums, libraries, cinemas or theatres than non-Indigenous adults
  • Indigenous people in remote areas were more likely to have attended a religious activity or a ceremony than those in non-remote areas.

A copy of the full report is available for download free of charge from the ABS web site. Alternatively, a summary brochure may be obtained from Katrina Baker on (08) 8237 7449 or by emailing <>.


The results of the 2004-05 Service Industries Survey for sports and physical recreation services were released in ABS catalogue number 8686.0 on 29 August.

At the end of June 2005, there were 9,256 sports and physical recreation businesses and organisations. Over half (54%) of these were 'for profit', 39% were 'not for profit' and 6% were government organisations.

These businesses and organisations generated $8,821 million in income during 2004-05 with 'not for profit' organisations generating over half this amount ($4,609 million). 'For profit' businesses generated $2,734 million.

The main sources of income for non-government businesses and organisations were sports membership and competition fees ($1,306 million), sponsorship and fundraising ($799 million), TAB distributions ($689 million) and casual playing fees ($446 million).

Other key findings were that
  • horse and dog racing entities generated income of $1,556 million
  • health and fitness centres and gyms generated income of $679 million
  • other sports and physical recreation venues, grounds and facilities generated income of $1,110 million
  • there were 111,519 people employed in sports and physical recreation services at the end of June 2005
  • government organisations employed 11,051 people and spent $1,458 million in relation to the provision of sports and physical recreation services.

The survey was last conducted in 2000–01 but differences in the surveys mean that caution needs to be taken when interpreting any changes, or in assessing industry performance or growth. The 2004–05 survey included non-employing businesses, the inclusion of which is estimated to have contributed an additional 13% to business counts and 3.3% to financial estimates. However, the impacts of funding for the 2000 Olympic Games on the 1999–2000 data, and funding for the 2006 Commonwealth Games on the 2004–05 data also need to be considered in making any comparisons over this period.


In the last issue of Culture and Recreation News, we outlined a project to assess the current statistical priorities of, and decide future directions for, NCCRS with regard to arts and cultural heritage research and statistics. In consultation with the Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group (CMCSWG), NCCRS prepared a key issues paper that identified policy issues, potential research questions and useful data sources relevant to the arts and cultural heritage. This paper, and an accompanying feedback questionnaire, were emailed to government arts agencies, peak bodies, community arts networks, city councils, regional bodies and researchers across Australia. NCCRS thanks everyone who provided feedback on the key issues paper. The quality of responses was high in terms of the level of detail provided, and this has given us a greater understanding of data needs, as well as useful information about particular industry/sector issues, other sources of data, and how to improve definitions, classifications and data collections.

A summary of the feedback was prepared for CMCSWG, together with a proposal for a one-day workshop at which its members could prioritise needs, determine whether further investigation of priorities was required, and discuss possible actions to meet priority needs. At the October meeting of CMCSWG, its members decided to hold a facilitated workshop in Brisbane around the end of November to discuss and decide research and statistical priorities. This workshop will include discussion of the need to define a broad set of cultural indicators which are relevant to the National Cooperation Framework for Arts and Culture recently agreed to at the September meeting of the Cultural Ministers Council. Following the workshop, NCCRS will provide information about the priorities decided upon (and any proposed actions) to everyone who responded to the feedback questionnaire, and to others who have expressed an interest in the project. NCCRS will also use the information to prepare an ABS Information Development Plan for the Arts and Cultural Heritage (with target publication date of June 2007). The plan will be reviewed regularly in order to incorporate new data sources and identify changes in policy priorities and data needs as they arise.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about this project, or would like to receive updates about its progress, please contact Sue McKay on (08) 8237 7394 or email <>.


The Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group, in partnership with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, has initiated a project to develop data standards for major cultural heritage institutions. The aim is to produce key aggregated statistics to facilitate information sharing, benchmarking and time series comparisons among these institutions. This should lead to an improvement in the overall quality and comparability of key data collected by Australia's cultural heritage sector (comprises museums, libraries, art museums and archives).

The Collections Council of Australia Ltd and the majority of major cultural heritage institutions contacted have given in principle support to the project.

Following the Cultural Ministers Council Standing Committee meeting on the 27 July 2006, NCCRS has received authorisation to continue on to the next phase of the project. This will involve NCCRS gathering information about the current data holdings and reporting requirements of major cultural heritage institutions. NCCRS is planning to undertake consultations with institutions from November 2006.

If you are interested in finding out more about this project, please contact Jenny Dobak on (08) 8237 7329 or <>.


People choose to spend their leisure time in various ways. Some people's choices include visiting cultural venues, attending cultural events and participating in cultural activities. Information about these choices, and also the choices of people who do not access arts and cultural heritage services, is important for policy makers and service providers. In addition to understanding the interests of consumers, it is also important to research and understand the reasons for other people not consuming arts and cultural heritage services.

The NCCRS has completed an analysis of the characteristics of attendees at selected cultural venues and events, and also a separate analysis of the characteristics of frequent attendees. These analyses aim to explore the key questions:
  • Why do people attend, or not attend, cultural venues and events?
  • What are the barriers and motivators?
  • Do the barriers and motivators differ between different cultural venues and events?
  • Why do some people attend cultural venues and events more frequently than others?

The report The Social and Demographic Characteristics of Cultural Attendees will soon be released on the Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group web site at For further information about this report please contact Katrina Baker on (08) 8237 7449 or email <>.


Email: <>
Culture Topics: Chris Giddings on (08) 8237 7326
Sport Topics: Mike Stratton on (08) 8237 7399
Director: Lisa Conolly on (08) 8237 7402
Fax: (08) 8237 7620

National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 2272

ABS Internet site: <>

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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