The Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey 2015 shows overall declines, but ballet and dance buck the trend.

Revenue from live performance fell 6.7% in 2015 according to Live Performance Australia’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey 2015. The annual survey is the most comprehensive survey of ticket sales for Australian live performance events.

The report showed that the revenue for 2015 was $1.41 billion with 18.38 million tickets sold to live performance events – a decrease of 6.7% in revenue and 0.9% in attendances when compared to 2014 numbers. Average ticket prices declined by 4.7%.

For the first time Live Performance Australia has also released supplementary data reporting on Australia Council for the Arts (Key Organisations) and Australian Performing Arts Centres Association member venues. The supplementary data shows 1.56 million tickets were issued to 7,736 live performances at regional and metropolitan venues generating revenue of $43.6 million in 2015, though the report acknowledges that this is not a comprehensive survey of regional and metropolitan venues. With these figures included, the live performance industry contributed $1.45 billion in revenue and 19.94 million in attendance.

“These figures underscore the economic and cultural value of the live performance industry for millions of Australians,” said Live Performance Australia Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson. “But the Turnbull Government hasn’t always matched this with policy direction or commitments. Instead, we have seen cuts to Australia Council funding for small to medium organisations, and more recently massive and unjustified increases in visa fees for large international touring groups.”

“We strongly believe that the Government needs to 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,” she said. “At the very least we require more effective consultation with Government Ministers and Departments well before any changes that may affect our industry are considered.”

Contemporary music was the largest contributer, commanding 34% of revenue and 30.2% of attendance. The sector saw a significant 21% decline in revenue, with a 13% decline in attendance and 10.4% decrease in the average ticket price. The top three revenue categories – contemporary music, musical theatre and festivals – accounted for 65.4% of all industry revenue in 2015.

The falling numbers from 2014 are part of a broader trend. Over the last two years, the live music sector has seen revenue fall by 30% and attendance decline by 27%. The Festivals category also reported a 17.3% decrease in revenue with the average ticket price falling by 14%.

According to Live Performance Australia, these figures reflect the significant challenges faced by the contemporary music sector locally and the need for government to support future growth in touring and employment.

There was some encouraging news for some sectors, however. Ballet and Dance experienced significant growth in revenue (20.4%) and attendance (11.9%) largely driven by strong growth amongst the major performing arts companies with 175% increase in revenue for those companies due to successful national tours of The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, The Dream, Swan Lake and 2021. 


While Opera reported a 2.6% decrease in revenue, this was due largely to lower ticket prices – with attendance growing by 12%. Classical music didn’t fare as well, with a 13.1% decrease in revenue, attendance falling by 2.1% and the average ticket price falling by 4.7%.


Key findings the report has highlighted include:


    •                New South Wales and Victoria command a larger share of revenue compared to their respective share of Australia’s population. Victoria’s revenue and attendance were above its share of the population and it had the highest spend per capita in 2014 and 2015. 

    •                In 2015 New South Wales experienced a 12.6% decline in revenue and attendance dropped by 8.8%; Circus and Physical Theatre down 46% and attendance down by 45% due to Cirque du Soleil ‘s Sydney season largely presented in 2014; Contemporary Music revenue down by 21% and attendance by 17% reflecting the national downward trend; and Festivals (Multi- category) revenue down by 30% and attendance down by 15%. 

    •                Victoria and Queensland both experienced declines in revenue, 2.9% and 4.2% respectively. Attendance was up by 4.3% in Victoria. The fall in revenue reflects the decline in Theatre (47%), Festivals (single) (45%) and Contemporary Music (24%). In Queensland, the decrease in revenue was driven by a fall in the Ballet and Dance category (39%) with the American Ballet Theatre not performing in 2015 and Theatre (66%) with less commercial Theatre being presented in Queensland. Despite the fall in revenue, attendance rose by 9.5% with growth in a number of genres, Festivals (multi), Musical Theatre, Special Events and Circus and Physical Theatre. 

    •                The ACT experienced significant growth in revenue (69.7%) and attendance (51.1%) largely due to the return of Cirque du Soleil. WA experienced a significant 8.4% decline in revenue and attendance declined by 13.1%, largely due to declines in Children’s/Family (58% and 54%) and Theatre (80% and 67%). 

    •                Tasmania and South Australia both experienced declining revenue despite growth in attendance. Despite a significant 37% decline in attendance in the Northern Territory, revenue remained steady (up 3.4%) due to growth in Comedy, Circus and Physical Theatre and Contemporary Music. 


Sector breakdown:

    •                The top 3 revenue categories (Contemporary Music, Musical Theatre, and Festivals (Single- Category)) accounted for 65.4% of all industry revenue in 2015. 

    •                As with previous years, the Contemporary Music and Musical Theatre categories represent the two largest categories in the industry, generating 34% and 23.8% of revenue respectively. Combined, these two categories account for 57.8% of the live performance industry in terms of gross revenue ($813m) and 47.9% of total attendance (8.8m people). 

    •                Contemporary Music and Festivals (single) combined accounted for 41.6% of revenue and 37.3% of attendance. However, both categories experienced significant declines in revenue, 21% and 17.3% respectively. The 17.3% revenue decline in Festivals (single) is largely due to the cancellation of Big Day Out and a 14% fall in the average ticket price. 

    •                The most significant gains in revenue were experienced by Circus and Physical Theatre (116%) and Special Events (85.2%) categories. The significant increases for Circus and Physical Theatre can largely be explained by the return of Cirque du Soleil while the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular contributed to the strong growth in Special Events. 

    •                Ballet and Dance also experienced significant growth in revenue (20.4%) and attendance (11.9%) largely driven by strong growth amongst the major performing arts companies with 175% increase in revenue for those companies due to successful national tours of The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, The Dream, Swan Lake and 2021. 

    •                Comedy also reported significant growth in revenue (21.6%) and attendance grew by 3%. 

    •                Theatre, Contemporary Music and Festivals (single) experienced significant declines in 
revenue. 

    •                Theatre revenue was down 43% and attendance declined by 24.5%. While the subsidised 
theatre sector experienced strong growth in both revenue and attendance at major performing arts companies events, there was a significant decline in commercial theatre productions. 

    •                Opera reported a small 2.6% decrease in revenue largely explained by a 2.8% decrease in the average ticket price while attendance grew by 12%. 

    •                Classical music experienced a 13.1% decrease in revenue, attendance fell by 2.1% and the average ticket price fell by 4.7%. 



The Full Report

Supplementary Data