Research: Community Choirs in Australia

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The Music in Communities Network’s research agenda includes filling some statistical gaps in our understanding of the community music sector. We know that there are an enormous number of community-based groups but there is no statistical information about how many people are in them, how often they perform, what music they play, what issues they face, or their demographics.

The second in a series of surveys focuses on community choirs. For the first time we have a statistical picture of the demographic and gender makeup of community choirs, how they are supported, some information about budgets and revenue streams, and an indication of the contributions that choirs make to their local community.

The survey took place in 2012-13 and has been analysed by Alex Masso, manager of the Music in Communities Network, a program of the Music Council of Australia. The 19 questions (see Appendix 2) cover a range of topics including demographics, leadership, budgets, and repertoire.

Key findings:

  • Almost all Australian community choirs sing Australian music (Figure 2)
  • Most Australian community-based choirs have been running for less than 10 years (Figure 3)
  • There is a gradual increase in choir participation with each age bracket, 45-54 year olds being most likely to sing in a choir (Figure 5)
  • Over 80% of choirs are ‘mixed’ but only 30% of singers in community choirs are male (Figure 7)
  • Almost two thirds of choir directors/leaders have a degree related to music and most of those have a degree in music education
  • The number of choirs where ‘singers must be able to read music’ is only 8%, in 57% reading is ‘useful but not required’, and in 36% of choirs ‘singers don’t need to be able to read music’ (Figure 10)
  • Almost all community choirs give their time to the local community, with three quarters giving free concerts and even more performing at community events (Figure 12)
  • About a quarter of Australian community choirs have annual expenses of under $1000 (27%), a further 10% have between $1000 and $2500 in their 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)
  • More than half of all community choirs receive some form of support from local government, 13% receive support from state governments and 5% from the federal government (Figure 14)
  • Besides local government, the next highest level of support for choirs comes from churches and religious organisations (Figure 14)


About the Survey

Australian Music

Participation, Concerts and Rehearsals

  • Age of choirs
  • Age of members
  • Gender

Choir Leaders

Entry to Choir Participation

  • Audition and Reading Skills
  • Participation Fees

Contribution to Community

Finance & Support

  • Overall Budgets
  • Expenses
  • Support from Community & Government

Appendix 1: How many choirs are there?

Appendix 2: Questions


Report published 2 December 2013

Survey design: Alex Masso and Tina Broad

Analysis and report: Alex Masso

The Music in Communities Network is an initiative of the Music Council of Australia