Australians from every walk of life participate in and benefit from arts, culture and creativity. 

Australia’s leading arts and culture think tank, A New Approach (ANA) makes this evident through independent research and analysis.

What we mean by arts, culture and creativity 

ANA acknowledges the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia and their continuing cultural and creative practices in this land. This reminds us of the importance of sharing knowledge, skills and stories.

We recognise that Australia’s culture has been uniquely shaped by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, by the generations of people born in this place, and by the people from all around the globe who have made this place their home.

All these perspectives can help shape a cultural life that emboldens us. This aspiration informs ANA’s definition of arts and culture, which is broad and inclusive. It includes activities like:

  • attending cultural events in person (e.g. going to the movies, going to a festival, going to the symphony etc.)
  • visiting cultural venues in person (e.g. going to an art gallery or museum, visiting the war memorial, using libraries and archives etc.)
  • creating something (e.g. making something out of materials like wood, clay or wool, painting, photography or film-making, designing something on paper or on the computer, writing stories or poetry, etc.)
  • performing something (e.g. singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument etc.)
  • engaging with arts, culture and creative content within your own home (e.g. listening to music, watching TV, reading books, looking at art, visiting cultural venue websites, playing computer games etc.)

Not all arts, cultural and creative activities appeal to all people, but most people feel that there is something within the category of ‘arts and culture’ that they enjoy and that is relevant and significant to them.

The word ‘culture’ has a lot of different meanings. We use ‘culture’ to refer to ways of living and everyday forms of expression and creativity that we either share as Australians or that we share with other members of our particular social groups or communities. In the words of participants from our 2020 middle Australia research:

“Culture is belonging…where we feel we fit in.”

“We have an Australian culture. Even though there are many nationalities in it, we live the Australian way of life.”

This research showed that when we use the terms ‘arts’ and ‘culture’ together as a single term — ‘arts and culture’ — this new term takes on a broader, more inclusive meaning than either word on its own.

We note also that arts and cultural activities can sit within the industrial category of the cultural and creative economy, which includes industries and occupations that use creativity for production, and where cultural symbolism is evident in the finished product. This includes the kinds of activities outlined above, but also includes industries and occupations that may be less obvious, like advertising, design and architecture.

New Approach acknowledges that it meets, works and travels on the lands of First Nations peoples. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and to all First Nations peoples.