Schema of inputs and output of cultural development activity

About the Dataset

This data schema has been developed by local government across Australia to report headline items of local government’s contribution to the cultural life of Australians. The schema could also be used by other governments and organisations to report their cultural investments and activities. Cultural activities and cultural use are defined here as arts, libraries and heritage (excluding natural heritage) activities that have a creative and expressive component.  Lack of relevant data has been identified as a major barrier to progress of government cultural development activity, particularly data that is aggregable across organisations and locations. This schema has been developed to address this issue.

This data schema comprises:

  • Inputs (assets) of: infrastructure (cultural capital assets – i.e. buildings and collections); financial resources (cost of buildings leasing and overall cultural budget);
  • Outputs (activities) are additions to collections; contracts and grants to artists and producers; number of presentational and development activities and participation numbers; that occurred within the specified period (the financial year).

An additional aspect of this data schema, a set of outcomes of cultural engagement (ie. what difference all this investment and activity makes) is being developed by CDN in collaboration with the National Local Government Cultural Forum. See the current progress on the outcome schema.

Collection authority

This data set has been developed by the Cultural Development Network on behalf of the National Local Government Cultural Forum that includes representatives from the capital cities, local government associations in all jurisdictions, ALGA, Australia Council for the Arts and the Department of Communications and the Arts. This group meets bi-annually to support and development the contribution of local government to the cultural life of Australians.

Data collection process

CDN has recommended a four-stage process to gather this data:

Stage 1. Capital cities preliminary trial: late 2014-2015

During this stage the eight capital cities members of the National Local Government Cultural Forum worked together to develop and trial a set of key inputs (resources applied) and outputs (activities and commitments) that could be collected and used to define this scope, based on council-led cultural development activities across arts, libraries and heritage.They undertook a process of collecting the data using this first trial schema in late 2014. Managers reported the process of collecting data against this schema was feasible and valuable, but more work was needed on the definitions and detail to ensure comparable data and ease of collection. The Managers continued to work with CDN to clarify issues of uncertainty.

Stage 2. Capital cities second trial: late 2016-early 2017

In this second stage, the Capital Cities Managers collected data against the revised schema from Stage 1. CDN analysed the collected data and used it to substantiate a headline statement about local government’s contribution to the cultural life of Australians. This was discussed with the Cultural Forum at meeting in late 2016. In May 2017 and with some further refinement from Stage 2, the Capital Cities Members brought the dataset back to the Cultural Forum for endorsement to go forward and trial with an additional set of councils across Australia.

Stage 3. Pilot trial of a representative sample of LGAs across Australia: May 2017- October 2017

With the successful completion of Stage 2, state and territory local government associations are working with CDN to recruit a sample of LGAs from across Australia. These will represent the diversity of Australian local government, through a sample comprising of 68 Australian local government entities, with the intention of gathering data from approximately 10% of Australia’s 568 councils. This assumes attrition of up to 20% (14/70) of the original sample, considering organisations that might not be able to be included because of lack of published plans, etc.  A stratified randomised sampling technique will be used, with examples drawn from each of the 22 ACGL classifications of LGAs representing the diversity of Australian authorities (Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, 2015).  Councils will be selected from each category in each state and territory, proportionate to the numbers in each category for each jurisdiction. Where more than one council fitted a category, the selection will be made by identifying the median Council listed followed by the 25% point and 75% point of the range. This method will be used to reduce potential of sampling bias.

The recommended sample includes:

  • all capital cities, given their diversity and scope of impact, with the addition of ACT which is not included in the ACLG categories.
  • between 1 and 5 LGAs from each of the 22 categories, except RSG which has only two LGAs, both in WA, so only one of those will be counted.

Considerations for sampling include:

  • representation of the 22 categories of local government, proportionate to the overall number of them, as well as the proportion within each jurisdiction, and
  • distribution of participants proportionate to the population in each jurisdiction. Thus, the numbers of LGAs involved from the larger states will be greater than that of the smaller jurisdictions, as will the amount of work required to recruit councils and encourage them to collect data.
  • where there is more than the number of LGAs required in each category, the required number of LGAs will be recruited on a random basis, perhaps every fifth LGA on the list starting from the bottom.

Following the data collection, participating LGAs will be invited to offer their responses on four issues:

  • comprehensiveness of data schema: Did the data schema enable you to document everything your LGA is involved in? If not, what was missing?
  • definitions and details: Did the definitions and details offered provide you enough information to ensure you knew what was meant?
  • data collection process: How easy or difficult was it to collect the data? Were there any specific items that were too difficult? Is there anything your LGA could do to make this process easier in the future?
  • usefulness of the data collection process: did the collection of this data seem like a useful process (either now or in the future) for your LGA?

The data from both processes will be analysed and reported to the Cultural Forum meeting in late 2017. This will include presentation of a schema revised in the light of feedback and other considerations, for discussion.

 Stage 4. Extension of data collection to all LGAs: early 2018

Pending adjustment of the data schema and on-line collection tool after feedback from participants and the CF meeting in late 2017, the data collection process will be open to all Australian LGAs. Associations will be asked to encourage members to participate. Participants will be recruited between February and May and invited to enter data after June 30, to cover the 2017-2018 financial year. Information about progress to date will be presented at the Cultural Forum meeting in late 2018.


Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (2015). Categories of local government by state July 2013, Local Government National Report (p.203), Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia

The Dataset

To view the 45 items included in the dataset and their definitions please click on the link below:

Contact us about this project

More information about this project is available from CDN:

John Smithies, Director, CDN on