Cultural and creative activities methodology

Latest release
Reference period
2021-22 financial year
Next release Unknown
First release


This publication contains results from the Cultural Participation and Attendance Survey, a topic on the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) conducted throughout Australia from July 2021 to June 2022. The MPHS, undertaken each financial year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to collect statistics for a number of small, self-contained topics.

The survey collected information from people about:

  • their attendance at selected cultural venues and events in the past 12 months, including libraries and archives, art galleries, museums, cinemas, live music concerts, theatre, dance and other performing arts
  • their participation in selected cultural activities in the past 12 months, including performing arts, singing or playing a musical instrument, dancing, writing, visual art activities and craft activities
  • whether they volunteered or received income as part of their participation in the past 12 months.

This publication also presents information about:

  • characteristics of participants
  • frequency of cultural engagement for the 12 months prior to the interview
  • labour force characteristics, education, income and other demographics.

The questions asked are in respect to the previous 12-month period at the time of interview. As a result, the reference period for the Cultural Activities 2021-22 data spans from July 2020 to June 2022.  

Statistics in this release may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the enumeration of the Cultural Participation and Attendance Survey 2021-22, several initiatives were in place around Australia to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. These included:

  • Australian Government closure of the international border, which ceased on 1 November 2021
  • border control measures between states and territories
  • capacity limits and various social distancing rules in venues and businesses
  • periodic state-wide and regional lockdowns and accompanying closure of non-essential businesses and services
  • isolation periods for COVID-19 positive cases and close contacts.

The survey was collected on behalf of the arts and culture ministers across Australia, represented by the Cultural and Creative Statistics Working Group (CCSWG), who provided the funding.

Data collection


The scope of the survey included both children aged 5-14 year and people aged 15 years and over who were usual residents of private dwellings and excludes:

  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from Census and estimated resident population counts
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants)
  • persons living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, boarding schools, hospitals, nursing homes, homes for people with disabilities, and prisons
  • persons resident in the Indigenous Community Strata (ICS).

The scope for MPHS included households residing in urban, rural, remote and very remote parts of Australia, except the ICS.


In the LFS, rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person in scope is associated with only one dwelling, and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia for more detail.

Sample size

Information was collected from 23,949 fully responding persons. This includes 386 proxy interviews for people aged 15 to 17 years, where permission was not given by a parent or guardian for a personal interview. Information was also collected for 5,880 children aged 5-14 years from parents or guardians in the survey.

Collection method

The survey is one of a number of small, self-contained topics on the MPHS.

Each month, one eighth of the dwellings in the LFS sample were rotated out of the survey and selected for the MPHS. After the LFS had been fully completed for each person in scope and coverage, a usual resident aged 15 years or over was selected at random (based on a computer algorithm) and asked the additional MPHS questions in a personal interview. 

In the MPHS, if the randomly selected person was aged 15 to 17 years, permission was sought from a parent or guardian before conducting the interview. If permission was not given, the parent or guardian was asked the questions on behalf of the 15 to 17 year old (proxy interview).

If the randomly selected person was aged 18 years or over, they were asked additional questions to determine whether they were a parent or guardian for any children 5-14 years who were usual residents of the household. If the respondent was a parent or guardian they were asked questions about cultural participation and attendance for up to two of their children aged 5-14 years. Children in scope were randomly selected based on a computer algorithm at the time of interview.

Data were collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI), whereby responses were recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, with interviews conducted over the telephone. 

Processing the data

Show all


Country of birth



Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

Comparing the data

Comparability of Time Series

2017-18 data for this topic has been previously published in Participation in Selected Cultural Activities and Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events.

As similar methodology has been adopted for the surveys, data on the attendance and participation rates of selected cultural activities is comparable between 2021-22 and 2017-18.

The only difference between the two surveys was the separation of photography from film-making, in the Participation topic.  ‘Photography, film-making or editing’ was changed to two data items in ‘Photography’ and ‘Film making or editing’. The subtotal of Total visual arts activities remains comparable.

Comparability to monthly LFS Statistics

Since the survey is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available in this publication. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The scope of the Cultural Participation and Attendance Survey and the LFS differ (refer to the Scope section above). Due to the differences between the samples, data from this survey and the LFS are weighted separately. Differences may therefore be found in the estimates for those data items collected in the LFS and published as part of Cultural and creative activities.

Data Release

Data cubes/spreadsheets

Data cubes containing all tables for this publication in Excel spreadsheet format are available from the Data downloads section of the main publication. The spreadsheets present tables of estimates and proportions, and their corresponding relative standard errors (RSEs) and Margins of Error (MOEs).

As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may be able to provide other relevant data on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tables can be tailored to individual requirements for a fee. A list of data items from this survey is available from the Data downloads section. For inquiries about these and related statistics, contact the Customer Assistance Service via the ABS website Contact Us page.


For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the data, the survey microdata will be released through the TableBuilder product. Microdata can be used by approved users to produce customised tables and analysis from the survey data. Microdata products are designed to ensure the integrity of the data whilst maintaining the confidentiality of the respondents to the survey. More information can be found at TableBuilder.


To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves a small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals. The introduction of perturbation in publications ensures that these statistics are consistent with statistics released via services such as TableBuilder.


Show all


Show all

Back to top of the page