While Australia’s live entertainment industry pulled in $1.1 billion Australian in ticket revenue last year, it also represented a 24.2 percent decline in ticket sales and a return to 2005 levels when 15.8 million tickets were sold, according to Live Performance Australia‘s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey 2008, a 25-page industry report released on July 27.

Revenue figures for 2008 also show a $13.6 million Australian decline in revenue compared to 2007’s $1.23 billion Australian and its accompanying 20.9 million tickets sold. Figures for 2006 were not too far behind 2007’s with revenue of $1.16 billion Australian, and 19.8 million tickets sold, making 2006 and 2007 peak years for the Australian live entertainment industry, according to the report.

Contemporary music was among the largest revenue-generating categories (37 percent), followed by musical theatre (24 percent); classical music (10 percent) and theatre (8 percent).

However, the report points out that the actual value of the industry is even larger than reflected in the survey since attendance at festivals and non-classical music events are under-reported and also excludes smaller events such as regional venues.

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“Spending by Australians on live performance has remained strong,” said Evelyn Richardson, chief executive of Live Performance Australia (LPA), in a statement. “These figures are comparable to trends in other major territories around the world, highlighting the fact that Australia has a world-class live performance industry. This is evidenced by the success of individual performers and touring shows, for example Dirty Dancing and Priscilla moving to the West End and local hits such as Wicked, Chicago, Billy Elliot and Jersey Boys.”

“We know from experience that our industry is cyclical and the global downturn will have an effect on Australia,” said LPA President Andrew Kay, in a statement. “However, these are not new challenges for our industry. We are looking at ways to sustain our activity across the live performance industry.”

Kay continued, “This means finding new and innovative ways to deliver compelling live performance events that will keep attracting audiences, as well as working closely with governments at every level to ensure the ongoing vitality of the live performance industry. The results from our survey prove that Australians are passionate supporters of live performance and that the industry makes a significant economic contribution.”

The LPA Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey is based on data collected from two sources — the country’s major ticketing service providers and the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) companies.