According to a new report called “A data picture of Australia’s arts and entertainment sector”, Australians rank fifth among the world’s biggest entertainment spenders, right behind the United States, Japan, United Kingdom and Germany.
The new report, developed by Dr Sandra Haukka from the ARC Centre for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology, reveals that together Australians spent $17 billion in the entertainment industry in 2009, with each Australian over fifteen years old spending an average $756.
“The purpose of our research was to bring together data on the size and nature of the sector as a whole as well as for the sub-sectors of broadcasting, performing arts, new media, and music,” said Dr Haukka.
Though the entertainment sector makes a substantial contribution to the economy, the Australian entertainment industry is still importing much more than exporting. In 2009/2010, Australia has imported $2.4 billion in entertainment goods while it exported $540 million.
“The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 72% of creative and performing arts businesses made a profit in 2007/2008,” stated Dr Haukka. “However, Australia continues to experience a large entertainment trade deficit.”
According to Professor Greg Hearn from CCI the Australian entertainment industry has not grown enough to be globally competitive.
“The industry isn’t producing enough export due to lack of resources and skilled individuals,” said Professor Hearn.
“The world market for entertainment has long been dominated by certain countries and it’s very difficult for Australia to compete when these nations have greater investments, better technology and access to a wider pool of talent.”
One way to grow would be by taking local firms to international levels, especially by targeting niches instead of a wider audience. Examples are the Australian horror film industry and the Queensland’s Woodstock folk festivals.
According to Professor Hearn, the Australian entertainment industry should also take advantage of the changes the music industry is going through, especially the shift towards the digital.
“Research has shown that we are one of the strongest players in the digital content industries,” he stated.
“With the support of public and private sectors, investments in more facilities like better software and broadband infrastructure can result in better producers and help us make our mark in the world entertainment market.”
Photo by Fernando de Sousa