Discussion paper

The creative arts make a significant contribution to the Australian economy. They directly employed 193,600 Australians in 2019, and contributed $14.7 billion to Gross Domestic Product in 2017–18.

In addition to their direct economic contribution, the arts affect our happiness and mental health, and related “cultural and creative” activities are a part of industries as varied as manufacturing, sales, education, design and professional services. The creative arts also make an outsized contribution to life in regional Australia, including making art accessible for those in regional areas and providing regional artists with access to larger markets and a bigger reception.

The performing arts have been particularly affected by COVID-19 regulations and restrictions. The Arts and Recreation industry is the only industry where less than half of businesses are currently trading. Furthermore, the live performance sector reports that hundreds of thousands of people in the sector have already lost hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts. There has been some support for the arts in federal and state stimulus packages, but more would be needed to address the significant losses experienced by the sector.

Key findings:

  • The creative arts make a major contribution to the Australian economy, employing 194,000 Australians and directly contributing $14.7 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • In fact, the creative and performing arts employ four times as many people as coal mining, and as many as the finance industry
  • The sector has been extremely impacted by COVID-19 pandemic public health measures, with half of businesses in the arts and recreation industry not operating – more than any other impacted industry.
  • The majority of respondents (58%) support a $750 million federal relief package for the live music sector, less than a quarter (24%) oppose
  • Support for the $750 million federal relief package is strong across all states and voting intentions
  • 470,000 workers in the live performance sector alone have lost $330 million dollars worth of work.
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