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Society and culture

Creative Australia

Australia has one of the oldest continuous cultures in the world–that of the Aboriginal peoples–and at the same time has one of the most diverse cultures, being home to people from all corners of the globe. This unique make-up permeates Australia's culture and how it expresses its identity, including in the creative arts.

Australia has many publicly run galleries, museums and performance spaces, from the World Heritage listed Opera House in Sydney and world-class national galleries and museums in Canberra, to history museums and galleries in country towns. The Australia Council provides government funding to artists and arts organisations and Screen Australia supports Australia's film industry.

Private sector arts philanthropy is growing in Australia. Tasmania's innovative Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is privately funded, and generous private support helped to create the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Australia's creative industries have built a global reputation for innovation, talent and energy and play an important role in the Australian economy. Almost 95 per cent of the population engages with the arts at least once a year.

Contemporary visual arts in Australia encompass photography, multimedia, sculpture, installations, drawings, paintings and performance art. Since the 1970s, the works of Indigenous artists have attracted international attention, featuring, for example, in the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.

Australia's performing arts groups, musicians, dance troupes and theatre performers display the energy and diversity of Australia's arts and many are involved in international exchanges. Opera Australia and the Australian Ballet regularly undertake world tours. Smaller companies, such as dance troupe Chunky Moves, have toured the Middle East and the Bangarra Dance Theatre, Circus Oz and others are recognised internationally for the quality of their productions.

Australian music is another big export and covers an extraordinary range, from classical to contemporary and children's entertainment. The Australian Chamber Orchestra regularly tours Europe and Japan, and guitarist Slava Grigoryan is one of a number of prominent classical musicians and composers who regularly tour and work overseas. An eclectic group of Australian contemporary artists have achieved international success, including AC/DC, Gotye, Nick Cave, INXS, Kylie Minogue, Keith Urban, and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.

Fashion Week in Sydney and Melbourne showcases to the world the best of Australian designers and fashion brands: Akira Isogawa, Carla Zampatti, Alex Perry and Wayne Cooper.

Cate Blanchett at the G'day USA Gala 2014
Cate Blanchett at the G'day USA Gala 2014 (DFAT)

Did you know?

In 2014, Australia's Cate Blanchett won an Academy Award for best actress.

Screen Australia's support for the film industry has resulted in many overseas film successes and Australian actors such as Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce, Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts continue to receive international acclaim.

Australia's talented visual effects companies have worked on some of the world's biggest and most high-profile movies including The LEGO Movie, Gravity, Iron Man 3, Prometheus, The Avengers, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2, and The Matrix trilogy.

Last Updated: 25 August 2016
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