A recent Australia Council survey of 3000 Australians “ over the age of 15 and selected on the basis of geographical, age and gender quotas “ shows a growing enthusiasm for the indigenous arts.
17% of the total sample have a strong interest “ but once they have engaged, that number doubles to 34%. A further 50% of those who’ve engaged say their interest is growing. And even those who’ve never really encountered indigenous art say that 46% of them have a growing interest. In all, 60% of the people with no direct experience of the indigenous arts really want to know more.
But, at the moment, only 17% of the chosen 3000 have actually attended Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art shows or performances. So the potential for building audiences is very high.
Meanwhile, 37% with no experience say they’re unlikely to be convinced! And a tiny 3% say their interest is actually declining.
The visual arts are the most popular artform attended at 9%, followed by music and dance, with only 4% of the sample attending indigenous theatre.
The final piece of good news is that the greatest enthusiasm and participation in the arts generally is concentrated amongst the young “ 15 to 24 years of age. A wacking 60% of this group engage with the arts “ compared to just 44% for the next largest age group “ 25 to 34 year olds. So much for the commonly held view that the arts are only for an aged elite!
And one would suspect that this youngest group also has the greatest exposure to (and enthusiasm for) the indigenous arts.