Research: Community Orchestras in Australia

Alex Masso, July 2012

Download Community Orchestras in Australia (full report: PDF)

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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 out there but we don’t know how many people are in them, how often they perform, what music they play, what issues they face, or their demographics.

The first in a series of surveys focuses on community orchestras. The results paint a picture of a diverse and creative sector embracing all age groups and playing a wide range of music.

Key findings:

  • Over half of Australia’s community-based orchestras commission new music or have a member of the group compose for it.
  • While classical music is still the most popular genre, community-based orchestras perform a wide range of music including contemporary, multicultural, baroque, and Australian music.
  • There is great potential for orchestras to discover and try music which they aren’t yet playing. 46% of respondents are interested in playing a genre of music which they don’t currently play.
  • Australian music ranks highly among genres that orchestras “would like to” play, if they aren’t already.
  • All age categories are represented in at least 85% of adult/all-ages community orchestras.


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[i] Age groups, in the survey, were Under 18, 18-25, 25-35, 35-45, 45-55, and 55-65. Very young people (pre-school) are not expected to be playing in orchestras, the survey was not primarily for school-based orchestras. People above the age of 65 are, for the purpose of this survey, under the one category.