On this page we highlight key facts and statistics about the arts in the ACT region, as well as relevant national information.


According to the Cultural Facilities Corporation (2012), as an indication of the importance of the arts as an industry sector, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show that :

  • over 7,000 people are employed in cultural industries in the ACT, meaning that the ACT has one of the highest proportions of employment in cultural industries in Australia (Source: ABS, Employment in Culture, Australia, 6273.0, 2006, p.53);
  • household expenditure on recreation and culture in the ACT exceeds a number of other major areas of expenditure, including expenditure on hotels, cafes and restaurants (Source: ABS, Australian National Accounts, State Accounts, 5220.0, 2010-11, p.29); and
  • arts and recreation services represent a major industry sector in the ACT, adding a gross value of around $500 million per annum to Canberra’s economy (Source: ABS, Australian National Accounts, State Accounts, 5220.0, 2010-11, p.47).

Economic impact of the arts in the ACT:

Output – in 2012–13 the direct output of the arts and cultural sector in the ACT was estimated to be $974m of which the arts were responsible for $361m.

Value Added – the arts and culture sector directly added $426m of value to the ACT’s economy in 2012–13. This was equivalent to 1.3% of total value added by industry. Of this, $162m was associated with the arts.

Employment – there were 6,456 persons employed in the arts and cultural sector in the ACT in 2011. This was equivalent to 3.1% of ACT employment.

Household Expenditure – Canberrans have an appetite to pay for cultural activities, spending approximately $211m per year, which is a higher per capita level than other capital cities.

Local Participation – in 2013–14 nearly 350,000 people attended events at venues such as the Canberra Theatre Centre or Canberra Museum and Gallery. In 2013, more than 412,000 people attended events hosted by arts organisations supported by artsACT.

Cultural Tourism – close to 729,000 domestic and 128,000 international cultural tourists visited the ACT in the year to September 2014. Their total spending was estimated to be worth $855m.

(Source: Economic Overview of the Arts in the ACT, prepared by artsACT, 2015.)

The ACT and the Australia Council:

According to artsACT, in 2014/15, the ACT received $1.5 million from the Australia Council, which is the least of all jurisdictions and equivalent to the second least per capita at around $3.84 each – just slightly better than Queensland which received $17.6 million, around $3.68 each (Source: Canberra Times article ‘What new director Adam Stankevicious plans for artsACT and Events ACT‘ retrieved 16 January 2015)


The most recent comprehensive survey of Australian artists, conducted in 2009, shows that only 8% of professional artists in Australia are from a non-English speaking background, compared to 16% of the general population. That data comes from 1,030 practising professional artists, selected from the membership lists of a range of arts organisations. (Source: The Conversation article ‘Australia’s arts community has a big diversity problem – that’s our loss‘ retrieved 22 January 2016)

The median creative income for Australian artists is $7,000 – and $22,500 for those working on their practice full time. (Source: ArtsHub article ‘How artists really make their money‘ retrieved 22 January 2016)

0.004% of the Australian population will make a decent living out of their arts practice. (Source: ArtsHub article ‘99.8% The attrition rate of artists in Australia‘ retrieved 22 January 2016)


We rely on the arts sector to send us facts and their sources to keep this page fresh with new information. We look forward to hearing from you.

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