The big picture 2

Public expenditure on artistic, cultural and creative activity in Australia in 2007-08 to 2019-20
Arts citizen participation Arts funding Cultural industries Government expenditure Creative economy Cultural policy Supply chain Australia
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The 2019–20 financial year included both significant bushfires and the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic. While COVID-19 dominates our every thought and every policy today, it is important to remember that this was not the case for most of the 2019–20 period.

This report provides an updated overview of cultural expenditure trends in Australia between the 2007–08 and 2019–20 periods, drawing on a new release of Australia’s most comprehensive dataset on cultural funding by governments.

Key findings:

  • Arts and culture organisations and businesses accessed more than $4 billion of COVID-19 support in the last four months of the 2019–20 financial year. Of this amount, 98.8% came from the federal government; however, only half the states and territories were able to report on their pandemic-specific cultural spending.
  • Expenditure on arts and culture across the three levels of government reached a new high of $7.26 billion in the 2019–20 financial year, even without the inclusion of support for Covid-19 disruptions. However, the increase in real terms between 2017–18 and 2019–20 was marginal, at just 0.6%, indicating that total expenditure has increased only slightly faster than inflation.
  • Cultural spending has not kept up with population growth, with a 6.9% decrease in per capita expenditure on arts and culture in the period between 2007–08 and 2019–20. Cultural expenditure from the three levels of government combined was $282 per person in the 2019–20 period; in the 2007–08 period, it was $303 per person (adjusted for inflation).
  • At the time of this report, Australia was ranked number 23 out of the 34 OECD countries – a slight increase in ranking from 26th in 2015. In 2019, the OECD average for expenditure on culture, recreation and religion was 1.23% of total GDP, while the Australian figure was only 0.95% of GDP.
Related Information

The big picture: public expenditure on artistic, cultural and creative activity…

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ANA Paper No. 2022-01