4172.0 - Cultural Trends in Australia: A Statistical Overview, 1997  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/12/1997   
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Governments and the cultural industries themselves require reliable statistical information to ensure effective policy and planning decisions.

This publication, Cultural Trends in Australia: A Statistical Overview, has been produced jointly by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Commonwealth Department of Communications and the Arts. It brings together a range of data from both ABS and non-ABS sources and updates most of the material presented in the first issue released in 1994. This second issue differs from the first in that it presents cultural data on both a topic basis (e.g. attendance at venues, employment) and a sector basis (e.g. museums, visual arts). It also includes a wider range of cultural statistics available since the release of the first issue.

The publication uses a definition of cultural industries based on the National Culture/Leisure Statistical Framework produced by the Cultural Ministers Council. This framework was devised so that data about cultural activities could be collected on a consistent basis.

Most of the information presented in this publication was collected by the ABS, but data from surveys conducted by other organisations have also been used so a more complete picture of the cultural industries can be provided. Care must be taken in comparing data from different sources presented in this publication due to differences in survey methodology, definitions and reference periods.

This publication, while not intended to be exhaustive, offers a helpful overview of the most up-to-date statistics on the cultural sector and facilitates assessment of the sector's contribution to our economy and way of life.


  • Most Australians had attended at least one cultural venue during the year ended March 1995. Some 62.1% had attended the cinema, 38.4% had visited libraries, 27.8% had visited museums, 22.3% had visited art galleries, 16.6% had attended the theatre and 19.3% had attended operas or musicals.

  • In 1996, virtually all households possessed a TV, with 59.1% possessing more that one TV. Some 79.3% had a VCR. About 1 in 20 households received pay TV.

  • Some 30.3% of households had a computer at home in September 1996. About 310,000 people aged five years and over in these households used this home computer to access the Internet. They comprised 7.8% of people who frequently used the computer at home and 1.9% of the total Australian population.

  • In 1993-94, households spent an average of $25.59 per week on culture (e.g. to purchase books, audio-visual equipment, CDs, admission fees). This represents 4.3% of their total expenditure on goods and services. Total expenditure on culture by all households in 1993-94 totalled $8,800m.

  • Governments provided $3,195m of funding for cultural activities in 1995-96. About 43% was provided by the Commonwealth Government, 38% by State and Territory Governments and 19% by local governments.

  • Almost 2.2 million Australians had worked in cultural activities in the year ended March 1997. Another 2.6 million were involved in these activities as a hobby only. Cultural activities in which people had worked included organising fetes and festivals, doing arts and crafts, teaching, writing and performing.

  • About 255,000 people had their main job in culture in August 1996. Common cultural occupations included architects, librarians, music teachers, photographers, graphic designers, journalists and musicians.

  • Cultural industries accounted for about 2.5% of Australia's gross domestic product (GDP). In terms of value of output, cultural industries were about the same size as the road transport industry, the residential building construction industry and the education industry.

  • Exports of cultural goods earned Australia $750m in 1994-95, while imports in the same period totalled $3,364m.

  • Royalties earned by Australia for the use of cultural property (e.g. Australian TV programs, music) overseas totalled $156m in 1995-96. Royalties paid to the rest of the world for the right to use their cultural property totalled $655m.