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Calls for Turnbull government to support live performance as audience growth remains slow

While Australia’s live performance industry grew its revenue and ticket sales in 2016, industry body Live Performance Australia (LPA) is calling on the Turnbull Government to step up and make good on its innovation and jobs agenda for the sector.

The industry last year made $1.43 billion with 18.78 million tickets sold to performances. Those figures represent a 1.2% boost in revenue and a 0.8% boost in audiences from 2015 figures. There’s been an 18% growth in audiences from 2008 figures, but ticket sales are still a long way from the 2007 high of 20.89 million.

Source - Live Performance Industry in Australia: 2016 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey
Source – Live Performance Industry in Australia: 2016 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey
Source - Live Performance Industry in Australia: 2016 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey
Source – Live Performance Industry in Australia: 2016 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey

These figures were revealed in LPA’s annual ticketing survey, released this week.

The survey showed that contemporary music is still the greatest generator of ticket sales, accounting for 30.8% of revenue and 30.1% of attendance. Contemporary music suffered a decline of 7.9% in revenue, following on from 2015’s 21% drop. But attendance surged slightly, rising by 1%.

The cancellation of major music festivals, such as Future Music Festival and Stereosonic, saw a significant decline in festivals revenue (25.2%) and attendances (48.2%).

Theatre grew its audiences by 19% and its revenue by 40%, thanks to major productions such as Mrs Brown’s Boys, The Odd Couple at Melbourne Theatre Company, and Speed-the-plow at Sydney Theatre Company. Musical theatre saw an increase in revenue of 3.8%, and attendance of 1.2%, driven largely by major shows in NSW such as Aladdin and My Fair Lady.

Source - Live Performance Industry in Australia: 2016 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey
Source – Live Performance Industry in Australia: 2016 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey

Classical music grew its revenue by 36.1% and its attendance by 22.7%, thanks largely to an Andre Rieu tour and the return of BBC Proms.

Comedy achieved an impressive result, boosting its revenue by 57.3% ($86.4m) and its attendance by 42% (1.4m). These are the best results for comedy since it was given its own category in the survey in 2009.

LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson said the figures demonstrate the need for a more strategic approach to the sector from the federal government:

“These figures underscore the economic and cultural value of the live performance industry for millions of Australians.

“We have access to a wide array of high-quality local and international performances, which the report shows Australians truly value and enjoy. However, if Australia is going to continue to compete globally, to satisfy both Australian audiences and attract international tourists, we need to ensure we invest more, not less, in creating local product that is world class.

“Instead, 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.”

Source - Live Performance Industry in Australia: 2016 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey
Source – Live Performance Industry in Australia: 2016 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey
Featured image: Disney’s Aladdin

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