Community Choirs in Australia: Finance and Support
About a quarter of Australian community choirs have annual expenses of under $1000 (27%) and a further 10% have between $1000 and $2500 in their annual budget. While the survey does not cover budgets in more detail, these findings suggest that choirs cover a wide spectrum of financial capacity and that a significant number operate with a very small annual budget.
Besides the choir director or leader, the highest expenses for community choirs are Venue Hire, Sheet music, Public Liability Insurance and Accompanists (Figure 13). There are some differences between choirs with very low budgets (27% of choirs with an annual budget under $1000) and those with higher budgets.[i]
More than half of all choirs list sheet music as being one of the highest expenses (54%), even more so among the choirs with less than $1000 in their annual budget (64%). This suggests that the cost of sheet music has a major impact on community choirs. Venue hire is the highest expense overall and particularly for choirs with over $1000 budgets.
Support from Community & Government
Institutional support for community choirs comes from a range of sources, with both financial and in-kind support coming from the government, private and community sectors. While 64% of community choirs indicated that they receive some form of financial or in-kind support, only 41% overall indicated that they receive financial support from institutions in their community or government.
By far the highest level of support comes from local government, with 35% of choirs receiving financial support and 28% receiving in-kind support, in total 57% of choirs receive some support from their local council (Figure 14).[i] The other tiers of government are far less likely to support community choirs, with 13% and 5% receiving some form of support from state or federal government respectively.
While almost all community choirs receiving financial support from their local council also perform at civic or community events (93%), only 26% of choirs that perform for community or civic events receive financial support from their local council.
Churches are the non-government institutions most likely to support community choirs although this is more likely to be in-kind support such as use of spaces for rehearsals and performances rather than financial support. Businesses, Clubs and Philanthropists follow local government as the most common financial supporters of community choirs (15%, 13% and 13% respectively), although more choirs receive in-kind support from businesses than cash (19% in-kind).
Schools and Arts Organisations are similar to Churches in that they are far more likely to provide in-kind support to community choirs than financial support. While about one in twenty choirs receive in-kind support from an Arts Organisation, almost none receive any financial support from these organisations.
[i] These figures are based on the expenses other than the choir director or leader.
[ii] The ‘total’ figure for this section is not the sum of cash + in-kind because some choirs receive both kinds of support but are not counted twice.