New research proves investment in the arts is vital

DM Tangi Wai… the cry of water - photo by Bryony JacksonA new study that measures the impact of the City of Melbourne’s investment in the arts has confirmed Melburnians believe the arts are essential and Council’s support is vital for their continued success.

A collaboration between City of Melbourne and RMIT University, more than 1000 people, including artists, audience members who attended Council-run arts events, and the public, were interviewed to determine the value of Council’s investment in the arts.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle AC said the research highlighted the impact of Council’s role in supporting the arts, which contribute greatly to Melbourne’s well established reputation as a leading creative city. “This research confirms what we already knew anecdotally: Melburnians believe the arts are intrinsic to Melbourne’s identity and the arts sector relies on the City of Melbourne’s ongoing financial support,” said the Lord Mayor.

“Council takes its role as supporter of the arts seriously: that is why we are investing $18.3 million in arts and culture programs in 2017-18, which will strengthen our reputation as Australia’s arts capital. The arts also have a positive impact on our economy: Victorians spend $5.1 billion annually directly on cultural activities and our creative industries contribute $23 billion a year to Victoria, with almost three-quarters of the state’s population living in Melbourne.”

Key findings from The Economic Impact of the City of Melbourne’s Investment in the Arts report included:

  • 94 per cent of artists stated their project would not have proceeded without Council investment;
  • Artists who were initially supported by City of Melbourne either secured paid work (65 per cent) or further funding opportunities (45 per cent);
  • 70 per cent of audience respondents said their main reason to visit Melbourne that day was to attend the arts event;
  • Even when researchers sought out people who had not been to an arts event in a year, Melburnians still believed the arts were essential and wanted them preserved; and
  • 90 per cent of audience respondents agreed the arts should be preserved for future generations.

Chair of the Arts, Culture and Heritage portfolio Councillor Rohan Leppert said the research showed the importance of ongoing funding opportunities for artists and arts organisations. “For Melbourne to continue as a leading creative city, we need artists to create new, bold and inspiring works in the city,” Councillor Leppert said. “It is particularly noteworthy that an overwhelming majority of artists surveyed said they could not have produced their projects without Council funding and support,” said Councillor Leppert.

“Arts grants, residencies, affordable working spaces and creative workshops are among the ways Council supports artists to experiment and create new works that contribute to our city’s culture. Collaboration with other artists, higher standards of work, networking opportunities and further commissions were among the many other benefits that artists surveyed said they enjoyed as a result of Council support.”

Dr Meg Elkins, lead researcher at RMIT University School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, said the research team worked hard to measure the tangible and intangible value of Council’s arts programs. “Our comprehensive survey of artists, audiences and the general public provided a unique perspective on the true worth of the City of Melbourne’s arts programs to a broad range of people,” said Dr Elkins.

Professor Calum Drummond, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, said the partnership between the City of Melbourne and RMIT University had benefitted both organisations. “By collaborating with the City of Melbourne, RMIT has been able to apply our research expertise to provide answers to issues that contribute to society’s well-being,” said Professor Drummond.

For more information, and to read the full report, visit: for details.

Image: Tangi Wai… The Cry of Water – photo by Bryony Jackson