Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Study shows local government behind more than a quarter of Australia’s arts and cultural investment

Study shows local government behind more than a quarter of Australia’s arts and cultural investment
September 15, 2019

Local Government contributes more than a quarter of total national expenditure on Australian arts and cultural activities, according to a new study.

Demonstrating the increased importance of art and culture to local communities, the Big Picture report advised that the 26.2% local government proportion of arts expenditure was up from 22.4% a decade earlier, with councils committing almost $7 billion to the arts each year.

Report author, Kate Fielding, Director of the independent think tank A New Approach, explained "governments have always played a leading role in funding Australia’s arts and culture for the social, cultural, economic and personal benefits they provide.

“This report shows a shifting and increasingly volatile trend, with more public funding at a grass roots level from local government which is closest to the community.

“This increased per capita commitment of 11% by local government signals that local leaders are seeing the relevance of cultural activities to their communities, and that we should ensure this level of government is recognised as a key partner in our overall cultural ecosystem.”

Over the decade to 2017, spending by state and territory governments increased by 3.4% per capita, while Federal funding fell by 18.9%.

The report also noted that public expenditure per capita dropped by 4.9% between 2007 and 2018, well below the average of other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members.

Australia’s arts and culture sector contributes more than $111 billion to the economy, or 6.4% of Gross Domestic Product, and employs around 600,000 people, or 5.5% of the workforce.

It said spending on culture is split roughly evenly across three categories – film, television and radio, museums, art galleries, libraries, cultural heritage and archives, and arts.

Local government’s spending is typically capital expenditure such as buildings and their maintenance, and recurrent programs such as art and cultural activities like festivals.

Combined, this investment forms the building blocks of cultural experiences and life in local communities, be they in metropolitan, regional or remote locations.

In one example, a West Australian council used a children’s book and costumed characters to promote its community.

The City of Belmont won a 2019 National Award for Local Government for its Adventures of the Belmonsters book with the book inspiring children to physically explore their communities with their families.

The Big Picture report’s five recommendations included a greater strategic collaboration between all tiers of government with clear recognition of the increasingly significant contribution of local governments to cultural funding.

Fielding added “what is very clear from the data is that without a strategic and coordinated effort across all levels of government, Australia risks a deterioration of its cultural fabric and a loss of the significant benefits it provides.

“Our population has increased by 17% over the past decade, however, support for Australia’s culture and heritage isn’t keeping pace with this growth.”

Click here to view the report.

Images: The Murray Art Museum Albury (top) and Rosita the Belmonster [centre] with City of Belmont Chief Executive John Christie and Manager Community Place Making Natasha Griggs (below, courtesy City of Belmont).

Related Articles

14th September 2019 - No Government commitments to back new South Australian Arts and Culture Plan

13th September 2019 - Cairns Performing Arts Centre sees rise in attendance and ticket sales

13th September 2019 - City of Hobart supports investment in Public Art

28th December 2018 - Nine Aboriginal arts projects to share in Western Australia Government funding

15th October 2018 - Australian Cultural Ministers release consultation on future Major Performing Arts funding

12th July 2018 - Gala events to mark reopening of Townsville Civic Theatre

2nd October 2017 - NSW Government looks to back local arts participation

19th July 2017 - Survey shows 98% of Australians engage with the arts

20th January 2017 - Design concepts revealed for new Shepparton Art Museum

19th April 2016 - Rally hears that South Australian arts funding at risk of being ‘decimated’

13th December 2015 - Australia Council announces $10.4 million in arts funding

20th November 2015 - Federal Government rethinks arts funding with changes to unpopular NPEA initiative

9th September 2015 - Albury Museum aims for the Bilbao effect

12th August 2015 - Live Performance Australia speaks out on arts funding

27th February 2015 - Museums Australia responds to calls for a new body for public art galleries

27th November 2013 - Study reveals the impact of Public Art Museums

28th August 2013 - Record arts funding in Western Australia but is it in the right place?

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


Vticket Pty Ltd is the Australian and New Zealand distributor for Gateway Ticketing Systems Inc., the world leader in high-speed access control, admission control and ticketing software for the…

read more

Attractions / Security / Technology / Ticketing / Venues


Smart Connection Consultancy

Smart Connection Consultancy is a boutique sport and recreation consultancy who has become one of Australia’s leading advocates for the use of synthetic sports surfaces as a vehicle to grow…

read more

Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces


Aussie Strength

We are Aussie Strength. The ultimate supplier for Commercial Gym Equipment that's built to deliver in the toughest environments. From USA-Built hardcore weight training equipment from Arsenal…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness


The Pool Enclosure Company

Now TPEC Pool Enclosures - see

read more

Aquatics / Design / Recreation / Venues


Yellowbox Lockers

Yellowbox is an Australian technology company that has developed smart locker technology operated through an app with a focus on experience for users and facility managers. Found at Beaches, Aquatic…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Entertainment / Retail / Security



Clubware’s online gym software is not your run of the mill management system. It has been carefully designed to incorporate all the elements that a fitness club would need. How did we do that?…

read more

Access / Billing / Fitness / Recreation



SPORTENG specialises in the Planning, Design and Construction inspection of Fields of Play for all sports. Blending engineering with the specialist knowledge gained from working closely with sport…

read more

Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces / Venues



Digonex is a leading provider of customised dynamic pricing solutions to clients in arts and entertainment, sport, attractions, cultural institutions and retail sectors. Digonex’s technology is…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Sport / Technology / Ticketing


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business