Findings of survey of Victorian councils’ cultural development activity


A survey of Victorian councils undertaken between 2014 and 2015 offers information about several aspects of their cultural development work: planning, facilities, leadership of communities in cultural development and planning, and engagement of artists. An on-line survey supplemented by phone interviews enabled gathering of information from all 79 Victorian councils, the most comprehensive data collection undertaken to date.

Results indicate that there appears to be increasing numbers of councils creating and publishing cultural development plans, with 80% of councils now reporting that they have one, up from the 56% found in a desktop review undertaken a year earlier. The quality of those plans appears to have improved as well, with 95% of councils who had plans reporting that it addressed goals of the broader Council Plan, an increase from the 60% found to do so in 2013. A further quality measure was indicated in the numbers of council who reported that their plans were focused on outcomes (88% of councils with plans), rather than merely listing activities, which CDN had identified as a failing of many previous plans.

In terms of community leadership, survey results indicate a weakening, with only 52% of councils reporting having community committees with some leadership role in cultural development activity, in contrast to the 70% found a year earlier. Engagement of artists was found to be less problematic than expected: 80% of councils had engaged artists in the previous year, as either sole traders or companies, rather than employees, and both standard and artist-specific contracts were used equally successfully.

Councils were found to have a huge investment in cultural facilities, from halls through to outdoor and indoor performing spaces, theatres and galleries. The vast majority of these facilities were operated without any state support. These findings indicate strong investment by councils and a growing capacity for planning and delivery of cultural development services to Victorian communities.

Report produced by Kim Dunphy and John Smithies, with data collection undertaken by Lyndall Metzke, Leda Yazgin and Yuji Weisgard, December 2015

Download here:Report Victorian councils survey 2014-15