Major Performing Arts Companies_Fast Facts_Engagement

The facts show that the arts are a fundamental way of life for almost all Australians.

Major Performing Arts Companies_Fast Facts_Engagement


  • Nine in ten Australians participate in the arts.
  • In 2010, 83 167 students were undertaking a course in the field of creative arts at higher educational institutions (excluding TAFE) in Australia—5.2 per cent more than in 2009. Seven per cent of all tertiary students are studying a creative arts field.
  • In 2010–11, over a quarter (27 per cent or 4.7 million people) of Australians 15 years or older participated in a cultural activity—such as dancing, sculpting, painting, drawing or cartooning.

An attitudinal study towards the arts in 2010 reported 79 per cent liked or really liked the arts.


Australians are actively engaged with the performing arts

Live entertainment remained strong in 2011 when 17.5 million people paid to attend live shows.

This represents a healthy improvement on the figures recorded for 2008 and 2009, and continues the upward trend of 2010.

ABS figures for performing arts found there were 9.14 million attendees in 2009–10. This compares favourably to sports attendance of 7.6 million and galleries and museums attendance of 9.0 million.

  • More than half of Australians attend live performances.
  • One in six Australians go to the theatre, one in four go to the opera, classical music or
  • musical theatre and one in six go to dance.
  • One-third of children attend performing arts events outside of school hours.
  • One-third of children are involved in cultural activities, such as singing, dancing, acting,
  • playing an instrument, outside of school hours.

The major performing arts companies are extending the reach of live performance

Over 8000 people attend a performance by a major performing arts company every night of the year with around 3 million attendances annually.

Paid capital city attendances at performances by major performing arts companies have grown by 13 per cent from 2002 to 2011.

Attendance growth was particularly strong in regional and outer metropolitan performances.

Many companies’ seasons reached on or very near full houses in 2011.

The major performing arts companies also provide free outdoor performances individually and within major city festivals, special free-ticket performance days for the unwaged and free live remote telecasts of mainstage performances.

The major performing arts companies have partnered with national broadcasters ABC and SBS to record and broadcast their live performances for radio and television. They have also developed additional digital content for cinema screenings, live digital simulcasts around regional Australia and are offering program and behind-the-scenes interview downloads on the internet.

Estimated digital content audience reach: In 2010 major performing arts reported over 203 000 friends on facebook, 10 387 000 online visitors. Rapid growth has continued in 2011 and 2012.

A recent Boston Consulting Group report predicts online media will boom. The national and international audience for online content is rapidly evolving—for example, a fifth of Opera Australia’s audiences are now online.

The major performing arts companies are exploring new ways of reaching audiences

The companies are using and exploring digital media in new and innovative ways, for example:

  • Musica Viva has developed interactive music education software.
  • Circus Oz has created a dynamic online performing arts archive of videos stretching
  • back more than 30 years.
  • The ACO will soon launch a world first fully interactive 3D orchestral experience.

Bell Shakespeare’s new digital education programs, developed in partnership with Sydney Opera House, have not only received booking requests from regional Australia but also from schools in Asia.

Black Swan State Theatre, recognising the particular challenge the size of its state of Western Australia places on community access, has introduced an annual simulcast of a mainstage performance to regional theatres.

The major performing arts companies build creative partnerships

Under the Australia Council’s Interconnections project, almost 60 per cent of major performing arts companies have formally partnered with small-to-medium companies since 2009, entering into co-productions, mentoring artists from the small-to-medium sector and presenting works from small-to-medium companies. Examples include:

  • State Opera of South Australia & Slingsby Theatre Company
  • Sydney Theatre Company & Thin Ice
  • Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra & TasDance
  • The Australian Ballet & Balletlab.

Companies are also forging International co-production partnerships—for example, the West Australia Opera is spearheading a South African–New Zealand–Australian production partnership of Othello and Opera Australia is securing our presence internationally through the creation of new international co-production partnerships with opera companies from Buenos Aires, Brussels and Oslo.


The major performing arts companies are engines of artistic innovation

In 2011 the major performing arts companies presented 6,000 works—new, old and reinterpreted. That’s 16.5 works every day.

The major performing arts companies create copyright and clear copyright work for use as a core part of their business.

The companies are major producers of new Australian works (103 in 2011) and interpreters of classics and new productions of work (273 in 2011). In the three years to 2011, they produced over 380 new and new Australian works, and 389 new productions.

Major performing arts companies have strong relationships with individual artists and small-to-medium companies, and promote research and development. These opportunities have led to employment progression, development of artistic practice and stronger connection between performing arts companies.

The annual Helpmann Awards recognise artistic achievement and excellence in the many disciplines of Australia's vibrant live performance sectors, including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, theatre, dance and physical theatre.

In 2012 a total of 75 of the 165 nominees involved major performing arts companies. (Results out 24 September 2012.)


The major performing arts companies build communities

The companies toured 381 seasons nationally and regionally in 2011 and frequently conducted workshops and master classes in conjunction with the tour. About 73,000 non-school age people attended workshops, master classes and seminars hosted by major performing arts companies across the country.

They conducted 137 programs in 2011 to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, emerging artists, older people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living in regional or remote communities, people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth and young children.

The major performing arts companies help to teach Australian children

One in every five Australian school children is reached by major performing arts company education programs each year. The companies work closely with schools and communities to develop the content.

The major performing arts companies performed to 571 000 children and spent 795 000 hours in schools in 2011.


The major performing arts companies help to promote an Australian identity in a global world

The companies build an identity for Australia internationally as a sophisticated, creative, intelligent and culturally rich nation. The companies are world standard, as defined by overseas critics.

Lavish and spectacular … The strength and masculinity of the male dancers is revealed in partnering work that is complex and difficult. Romeo & Juliet is not the kind of ballet that is easily forgotten. —Dance International, December 2011 (about The Australian Ballet)

This show is plucky and sassy and worth every bit of its two hours. —The City Wire, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA (about Circus Oz’s Steampowered, 2011)

Listening to the ACO is like taking a swig of a vitamin drink. Suddenly: pow! The music feels stronger, muscled, hot from the gym … If that’s what Australia does for you, I’m emigrating. —The Times, 2008

In 2012 the major performing arts companies are touring all over the world, including to Slovenia, Britain, Japan, America and Canada. In 2011 they performed 218 times in Asia, Europe and North America to 121 000 people. That’s up on the five-year average of 189 international performances.



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