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Culture Stats Axed

Gina Fairley, ‘ABS cuts valuable arts and culture statistics’ ArtsHub, 1 September 2014

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has announced that it will discontinue its work in the area of creative and cultural activity in Australia.

Acting Australian Statistician, Jonathan Palmer, released a revised ABS work program that proposes to discontinue examination of Culture, Sport and Recreation statistics.

He said in the 5 June media statement: ‘Our highest priority was to maintain activities that are critical to effective government decision making and deliver the most public benefit.’

Cited to reduce expenditure by $50m over the next three years, its statistical work program will be reduced from 2014-15 as a result.

Joining the culture sector is also the discontinuation of surveying Australian Social Trends, Tourist Accommodation, Measures of Australia’s Progress and Environment collections from Australian Households.

Has the value of culture been thrown out with the waste?

President of Regional Arts Australia, Dennis Goldner, expressed concern over the decision: ‘The data collected by the ABS is essential in understanding and resourcing the not-for profit arts sector in Australian today. We urge the ABS to maintain this vital part of its program.

‘Arts and culture, as an industry, plays a major role in the national economy and it demands appropriate scrutiny,’ Goldner continued.

‘According to data released by the ABS in 2014, the contribution by the cultural and creative sector to Australia’s economy is more than double that of agriculture, forestry and mining.

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