4901.0 - Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, Apr 2009 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/10/2009   
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Over the 12 month period, data were collected on various organised cultural activities that were undertaken outside of school hours. It was discovered that:

  • 535,400 (20%) children aged 5 to 14 played a musical instrument
  • 164,700 (6%) had lessons or gave a singing performance
  • 390,400 (14%) had lessons or gave a dance performance
  • 126,700 (5%) participated in drama.

As with previous years, these activities were more popular with girls than boys. An estimated 45% (595,200) of girls and 23% (321,100) of boys were involved in at least one of the selected cultural activities. The majority of children involved in cultural activities were involved in only one. Approximately 13% (178,500) of girls and 4% (51,800) of boys took part in two or more activities.

Involvement in each of the cultural activities varied by sex. The most obvious example was dancing where 26% (348,500) of girls were involved compared with 3% (41,900) of boys. (Tables 1 and 3)


In all states and territories, participation rates for playing a musical instrument were greater than rates for dancing which in turn were greater than singing and drama. The participation rates in at least one cultural activity ranged from 28% in Tasmania to 37% in Western Australia. Participation rates for playing a musical instrument, singing and drama did not differ significantly between states, while participation in dancing ranged from 9% in Tasmania to 16% in Western Australia. (Table 2)

Participation in at least one cultural activity varied between age groups. In the 12 months prior to interview in April 2009, 29% of children aged 5 to 8 years participated in at least one selected organised cultural activity, the lowest participation rate for the age groups. The highest participation rate was 39% for children aged 9 to 11 years, while the participation rate for children aged 12 to 14 years was 35%. (Table 2)

Organised lessons

To be involved in an organised cultural activity for the purposes of the survey, a child must have performed or had lessons outside of school hours. More children involved in an organised activity had received lessons than not, over the 12 month period. Approximately 94% (366,900) of children involved in dancing had taken dancing lessons; 75% (94,400) involved in drama had taken drama lessons; 72% (384,000) of children playing a musical instrument had taken music lessons; and 54% (88,700) of children involved in singing had taken singing lessons. (Table 4)

Frequency and duration

Of those children who played a musical instrument, 37% (199,400) did so more than 52 times during the year. By comparison, 27% (105,200) of children involved in dancing, 8% (13,700) of those involved in singing and 5% (6,600) of those involved in drama did so more than 52 times during the year. (Table 5)

Children who played a musical instrument spent an average of 5 hours over the most recent two school weeks prior to the survey on this activity (including practising, having lessons or performing). Children involved in dancing spent an average of 4.5 hours over the previous two school weeks on this activity. For singing and drama, the average time spent practising, having lessons or performing was just under 3 hours (2.9 and 2.7 hours respectively). (Table 6)