Classical music and opera in Australia both saw significant growth in revenue, report shows.

Live Performance Australia has released its Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey for 2016, revealing last year’s complex and sometimes surprising patterns of growth and decline within Australia’s live performance sector.

“In 2016, 18.78 million tickets were issued to live performance events, generating total ticket sales revenue of $1.43 billion. That’s more than the combined attendances at AFL, NRL, Soccer, Super Rugby, Cricket and NBL in 2016,” said LPA’s Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson.

“In comparison to 2015, ticket sales revenue increased slightly by 1.2% and in attendance by 0.8%, showing that Australia’s live performance industry has remained stable. Conversely, the different genre categories experienced varying shifts in growth and decline. This trend is consistent with previous years and is primarily due to the impact of major tours or events, particularly international tours, in the market in any given year.”

Consistent with previous years, New South Wales generated the highest share of live performance revenue (37%) and attendance (32%), with Victoria the second largest, commanding 31% of revenue and 29% of attendance.

Conversely, Queensland, the ACT and the Northern Territory all saw declines in live performance revenue and attendance, while WA and SA saw increased attendance along with a fall in revenue.

The fastest-growing sector in 2016 was comedy, with revenue increases of 57.3% (to $86.4m) and a 42% growth in attendance (to 1.4m). Festivals reported the most significant declines among mainstream event categories, owing to the 2016 cancellation of national touring festivals Future Music Festival and Stereosonic.

Opera saw an 11.4% revenue growth, tempered by a decline in attendance of 5.8%. This increase in revenue can be attributed to The Ring Cycle being performed in Melbourne, which saw average ticket price increase by 20%.

However, classical music saw significant growth in both areas (36.1% revenue, 22.7% attendance). In fact, this sector scored its highest total revenue since 2008 and its highest attendance since 2012. These numbers were primarily driven by Andre Rieu’s tours and by the BBC Proms festival held in Melbourne.

With steady if slight increases in both revenue and attendance, musical theatre continues as one of the largest industry sectors, second only to Contemporary Music. A rather more dramatic shift was reported by the theatre category, which last year reversed the pattern of decline begun in 2014 with bursts in both revenue (40% growth) and attendance (19% growth). Much of this can be attributed to several 2016 productions by Australian major performing arts companies, such as Sydney Theatre Company’s Speed-the-Plow and Melbourne Theatre Company’s The Odd Couple.

“These figures underscore the economic and cultural value of the live performance industry for millions of Australians… Our research reaffirms the important contribution that live performance makes to the national culture and the creative economy,” said Richardson.

“The last few years have seen funding cuts, our small to medium sector massively impacted, and very little indication that Government is prepared to deliver on its vision for innovation and jobs growth in our sector.

“We strongly believe that the Government needs to step up and support greater investment in our industry which creates jobs, employs more than 34 000 people, generates significant economic activity and enriches the cultural lives of millions of Australians.”

Full report

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