From the CEO, July 2019

June was a month all about culture, as well as a significant moment of self-reflection for Perth.

Regular readers of this column know how much I love to binge on Fringe and early in June, Fringe World released their 2019 Festival Impact Report with some eye wateringly good results! This year Fringe reported exceptional growth in the box office, with a 15% increase in ticket sales, which equated to $10 million in payments to participating artists and arts companies. Equally as impressive, Perth Fringe maintained its status as the third-largest Fringe on the planet.

As outlined in the report, Fringe World’s driving purpose is “To enrich and evolve the culture of Western Australia”, and one of their core values is simply to “Make Perth better”. These values and goals align perfectly with our own at the Committee for Perth, so it is great to see Fringe World continuing to thrive and grow.

To put this success into perspective, here are some quick statistics from this year’s Fringe World:

  • 857,747 total attendance at free and ticketed events
  • 2,205 estimated FTE jobs created
  • 74% of artists from right here in WA
  • $16,754,512 visitor expenditure
  • $100,206,344 total economic impact

While a boost to the economy is great, the impact that Fringe World has on the cultural diversity of Perth is something that money can’t buy. Since its inception, Fringe World has offered up a non-traditional arts and cultural program and 92% of surveyed audiences indicated that Fringe made them more likely to attend cultural events in the future. This is a big step in the right direction for Perth, as our recent research into Perth’s reputation found that according to residents of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Auckland, cultural vibrancy is one of our weakest attributes. Clearly they’ve not been to Perth in the summer during Festival Frenzy.

Also during June, I attended Business News’ State of the Arts in Business breakfast at which the Hon. David Templeman, Minister for Culture and the Arts gave a rousing speech in support of the value of the sector. It isn’t often that a Minister has a business audience in the palm of their hand, but his passion was infectious.

The highlight of the month however was the release of new research as part of the Hashtag Perth project. This independent survey is the second research input into the project and focusses on Perth’s reputation locally, interstate and overseas, with residents from Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Singapore being surveyed. The aim of the study was to characterise Perth’s reputation as a place to live, work, study, visit, and invest, as well as identify strengths and address weaknesses of the region.

The survey of 1,257 people resulting in 87,500 data points found that we have a strong reputation among ourselves, but we are hesitant to recommend Perth to outsiders. We identified the attractive natural environment and high quality of life as our main strengths with investment opportunities, innovation and suitability for global headquarters as weaknesses. Residents of the other Australian cities surveys and those from Auckland agreed with these sentiments, and were more critical in areas such as cultural diversity, public transport and climate. Interestingly, Singaporeans consistently rated Perth highly across most attributes, in fact, they perceive Perth more favourably than we do ourselves.

Another key takeaway from the research is the evidence of a significant lift in Perth’s reputation once people have actually visited. According to the data there is a +29pp difference in reputational lift between those who have and haven’t experienced the region. This highlights a sizeable gap between perceptions of Perth and reality. Experiencing Perth is what will unlock tourism potential so perhaps the next campaign should focus on ‘Where on Earth is Perth?’. Key to gaining a greater share of the international student market requires more than the quality universities we already have, with respondents rating Perth poorly as a place with innovative industries and company headquarters.

If you’re interested in more insights from this research, see this month’s feature article, which dives deeper into the results.

During July, we will be busy undertaking further research for the Hashtag Perth project with many FACTBase Bulletins due for release in the coming months. Once we have completed the research phase, analysis begins in earnest.

Until next month.

Marion Fulker

Adjunct Senior Research Fellow UWA

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.