Australia has a population of 26 000 000 people. On current trends our population grows by around 1 million people every three years. Covid travel restriction may cause a slight, and temporary blip in those projections. 54% of our population growth is as a result of inward migration.
Almost 8 million people living in Australia were migrants, one third of our population. 86% of the population live in urban areas, the majority of them along the East Coast. In the last Century people from the UK and New Zealand made up the majority of migrants, and still do, however this Century the number of migrants from other countries, in particular Asia and India is increasing at a faster rate. In the past decade the percentage of migrants from China has increased 2% to 8.5% and from India 2% to 7.5% of our population. In the same period the number of people identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander also increased to 3% of the total population.
73% of the population speak English as their first language. Amongst the remaining 28% primary first languages include Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese and Vietnamese.
People are living longer in the lucky country. Back in 1950 the more fortunate lived until they reached their early 70’s, today people make it easily to their late 70’s and early 80’s without many troubles.
What do these changes mean for arts organisations? Firstly, if you are making programs for a predominantly English speaking audience, it is likely you are not attracting up to 25% of the potential audience. You will be okay for the next few years however increasingly the potential audience will become even more diverse.
This doesn’t mean you have to change everything, or anything, tomorrow. Being a part of the future is about being ready to adapt and change. A good place to start is to identify and understand the demographics of the region or area you draw your audience from. Once you understand what you are working with, then you can plan for the future.
I believe diversity begins at the top – on your Board or Committee of Management. When leadership is demonstrated by the governance group, then the rest of your organisation will be happy to follow.
I’m John Coxon, founder of art4u.australia, an agency helping arts organisations remain viable and sustainable through application of The Cycle, a proven model improving revenue, reducing costs and improving effectiveness. Reach out to John.