4157.0 - Public Attitudes to the Arts, Australia, Nov 1997  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/09/1998  Ceased
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  • Australians held differing views about the range of activities included in the arts: 80.9% included plays, ballet and opera; 79.7% music (concerts, orchestra and singing); 77.2% painting, drawing and sculpture; 61.6% literature, books and poetry; 53.9% craft, pottery and weaving; 53.5% photography; 35.2% architecture and design; and 9.1% sport .

  • Younger and middle age groups included a wider range of activities in the arts than older age groups.

  • Libraries were considered to be either very important or important in the community by 95.4% of the population. Corresponding figures for museums were 76.6%, performing arts venues 76.1%, and art galleries 71.5%. This support was irrespective of whether or not the reporting individuals were users of the facilities. Similarly, support was evident across all States and Territories.

  • The majority of Australians (90.7%) thought that libraries should receive some government funding. Government financial assistance for art galleries was supported by 62.7% of the population, live theatre (57.2%) and orchestras (54.2%).

  • The strong support for libraries receiving some government funding was evident across all States and Territories. In addition, more than half of the population in each State and Territory supported some government funding of art galleries, live theatre and orchestras.

  • Almost a quarter of the population (24.5%) felt that they were not adequately informed about arts events or activities in comparison with 6.9% of persons who indicated they were not sufficiently informed about sport.

  • Around two-thirds of Australians indicated that their main sources of information about the arts were newspaper articles, magazines and books (68.5%) and/or television (62.6%).

  • A higher percentage of females (18.4%) wanted to see more of the arts on television than males (10.5%).

  • Of the selection of cultural venues listed in the survey, cinemas were reported to be the easiest to get to (in terms of travelling time) with 87.1% of the population taking less than 30 minutes to travel to a cinema.


This publication has been produced jointly by the ABS and Australia Council. It provides a summary of people's opinions about the arts on a variety of topics including what people understood by the term 'the arts', whether they felt they were sufficiently informed about the arts and their main sources of information about the arts. Data were obtained in November 1997 from the Population Survey Monitor, a household survey conducted quarterly by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The statistics in this publication are the first produced by the ABS on attitudes to the arts in conjunction with the Australia Council.