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This section contains a selection of ABS statistics ranging over the spectrum of cultural industries and activities. More comprehensive data can be found in the publications listed in the Bibliography.
Involvement in culture and leisure activities
Four ABS surveys were conducted from November 1998 to August 1999 which collected information about the involvement of persons aged 18 years and over in selected culture and leisure activities during the previous 12 months. Results from these four quarterly surveys have been combined to produce annual estimates. Involvement in selected culture and leisure activities was defined to include both paid and unpaid work, but excluded involvement solely for the respondent's own use or that of their family.
As table 12.25 shows, in a 12 month period in 1998-99, 3.5 million people (25.6% of the Australian population aged 18 and over) were involved in selected culture and leisure activities. Of these persons, 36.6% received some payment.
Many persons were involved in more than one type of activity. There were almost 6.7 million involvements, the most common activities being writing, organising festivals, design, organising fetes, teaching cultural activities and photography. Almost half (46.6%) of these involvements were of a short-term and part-time nature, being 13 weeks or less duration and less than ten hours a week.
How Australians spend their free time
Generally, Australians fit their leisure activities into their free time, i.e. the time left over after personal, family, educational and employment responsibilities. The 1997 Time Use Survey showed that Australians aged 15 years or more spent on average a little over 5 hours (316 minutes) or 22% of their time per day on free time activity as their main activity (table 12.26). People frequently undertake more than one activity at the same time (e.g. housework and listening to the radio). If simultaneous activities are included, Australians spent just over nine hours (552 minutes) on free time activities. Time spent using audio/visual media (e.g. watching television and listening to the radio) showed the largest increase when comparing all activities (including simultaneous activities) with main activities. As a main activity, an average of just over two hours (131 minutes) was spent on audio/visual media. However, when simultaneous activities were included, time spent on this activity nearly doubled to over four hours (257 minutes).
Public attitudes to the arts
The November 1997 Population Survey Monitor showed that Australians hold different views about what range of activities is included in the arts: 81% included plays, ballet and opera; 80% music (concerts, orchestra and singing); 77% painting, drawing and sculpture; 62% literature, books and poetry; 54% craft, pottery and weaving; 54% photography; 35% architecture and design; and 9% sport.
Libraries were considered to be either very important or important in the community by 95% of the population. The corresponding figure for museums was 77%, for performing arts venues 76% and for art galleries 72%. These levels of support were irrespective of whether or not the reporting individuals were users of the facilities.
A quarter of the population indicated that they were not adequately informed about the arts, whereas only 7% indicated that they were not adequately informed about sport. The most commonly used sources of information about the arts were newspapers, magazines or books (69%) and television (63%).
Art and craft purchases
Results from surveys conducted during 1997 show that, in the three months prior to interview, 21.4% of Australian people purchased a total of 0.9 million art items and 3.9 million craft items. Of these, 0.7 million art items and 3.0 million craft items were made in Australia (table 12.27). The value of Australian made art items purchased in the three months prior to interview was $138m with a mean price of $195; the value of craft items was $318m with a mean price of $107. Extrapolated to expenditure for a full year, this would be in the order of $550m on art items and $1,250m on craft items.
12.27 AUSTRALIAN MADE ART AND CRAFT PURCHASES - Purchases over 3 months, 1997(a)