Quick Stats

Participation in Music

From the Australia Council's More than Bums On Seats (2010):

15% of Australians are involved in creative participation in music (ie. “playing, singing or composing”)

  • 11% play a musical instrument
  • 5% sing
  • 4% write songs, mix/compose music
  • (obviously some people do more than one of these!)

57% of Australians are involved in receptive participation in music (ie. “listening to it”)

In total, 62% of Australians participate in music. More than visual arts & crafts (49%), Theatre & Dance (42%) but less than Creative Writing/Reading (84%).

Of the 80 per cent of people who had creatively or receptively participated in visual arts and crafts, theatre, dance, creative writing or music in the past 12 months, a third (32 per cent) of them engaged in some form of community art. This puts community arts involvement at around a quarter (24 per cent) of the population.[i]

From Australian Atttitudes to Music (2001)

In Australia, 36% of households contain at least one person who now plays a musical instrument.  This equates to a rough estimate of 4 million people of all ages (5+ yrs) who play.

Volunteering in the Arts

In 2006, 1.4% of the population (207,200 people) “Undertook voluntary work for an arts/heritage organisation in the last 12 months” and “While the rate of volunteering for arts/cultural organisations is lower than the four most common types of organisation (sports/recreation, education/training, community/welfare, and religious groups), arts and culture volunteers work longer hours for more organisations, indicating a strong commitment to the sector”[ii]


Orchestras: About 130-170

Our Community Orchestras in Australia report looked at the activities, repertoire and demographics of Australian community-based orchestras. We found that:

  • 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.

Read the report

Pipe Bands: 130+

Pipe Bands Australia has 130 member bands. We don’t know if there are more bands than this, it’s our best estimate. [iv]


After our research project looking at community choirs in Australia it is still too difficult to put a figure on the number of choirs in Australia. We know that there are over 1000, possibly several thousand.

We also found:

Key findings:

  • Almost all Australian community choirs sing Australian music
  • Most Australian community-based choirs have been running for less than 10 years
  • There is a gradual increase in choir participation with each age bracket, 45-54 year olds being most likely to sing in a choir
  • Over 80% of choirs are ‘mixed’ but only 30% of singers in community choirs are male
  • 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’
  • Almost all community choirs give their time to the local community, with three quarters giving free concerts and even more performing at community events
  • 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
  • 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
  • Besides local government, the next highest level of support for choirs comes from churches and religious organisations

Read the full report

Local Government

There are 562 local governing bodies in Australia

Some stats from 2006 on Local Government’s provision of cultural services and community arts workers & policies.

“…only 27% of a survey (2005) of 113 local governments in NSW held an active, stand-alone cultural policy and across the 113 councils there was a total of 67 fulltime staff working specifically on cultural services. The survey showed that:

  • 30 councils had a cultural policy and 11 councils intended to
  • 49 had a cultural plan and 14 intended to
  • 69 had cultural integrated in their Social and Community Plan and 5 councils intended to

Within the 113 councils there were:

  • 26 full time and 6 part time Managers of Cultural Services
  • 28 full time, 16 part time and 3 casual Cultural Development Officers
  • 8 full time and 3 part time Cultural Planners
  • 5 full time, 4 part time and 7 casual Community Arts Officers

Source: Regional Arts NSW[vi]

Music in Schools

Have a look at the More Music Toolkit which is a great resource for anyone advocating for and involved in school music programs.  

The vast majority (85%) of Australians agree that "the arts should be an important part of the education of every Australian kid"

Saachi and Saachi Australians and the Arts, Australia Council, Australia

As few as 23% of State schools are able to provide their students an effective education. In the private system, it's closer to 88%. - from the National Review of School Music Education (PDF), via Music. Count Us In.