Arts and recreation services industry fact sheet

This fact sheet provides an overview of the legal, operational and business issues relevant to the arts and recreation services industry, which includes:

  • live performances, events or exhibits (e.g. artists, musicians, writers, performers and venue operators)
  • sporting or recreational activities (e.g. sports venues, gyms, sports clubs, amusement parks, horse and dog racing)
  • the preservation and exhibition of historical, cultural or educational objects (e.g. museums, zoos, nature reserves, botanical gardens and parks)
  • gambling activities (e.g. casino, online gambling and lottery operators).

As well as the information in this factsheet, you should check our general business information for additional regulations and obligations relevant to your business. For further advice and assistance, contact your accountant, solicitor or business advisor.

See our topics on this page for detailed information on the arts and recreation services industry:

  • Research
  • Key legislation & initiatives
  • Licences & permits
  • Employment
  • Finance & tax
  • Grants
  • Workplace Health & Safety (WHS)
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Industry training
  • Environment
  • Key government organisations & websites
  • Key advisors
  • Industry groups


Industry research is an important part of planning for your business. It may uncover economic and industry trends, establish or improve your business and help you keep pace with your industry.

Key government sources for industry specific statistics on the arts and recreation services industry include:

  • Australia Council for the Arts
    The artfacts website provides comprehensive statistics on the music and visual arts industries including attendance, household spending, royalties, profiles of performers and visual artists and the global market.
  • Attorney-General’s Department - Ministry for the Arts
    The Attorney-General’s Department resources and publications page has a range of industry related information, including annual reports, industry reports, news archives and statistics.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
    The ABS provides statistics on the arts and recreation services industry within their Culture and Sport and Physical Recreation pages.

Key legislation & initiatives

Legislation often plays a large part in how you run your business, so it’s important to be aware of the laws that apply to your industry. Key legislation that may affect businesses in the arts and recreation services industry includes:

Live performances, events or exhibits (e.g. artists and writers)

Preservation businesses (e.g. nature reserves, parks & zoos)

Sporting and gambling activities

The Department of Communication and the Arts page provides a list of policy and legislation that are relevant to the arts and recreation services industry.

You can have your say on government policy and regulation affecting the future of your industry by registering on the Business consultation website.

Back to top

​Licences & permits

Licences and permits specific to the arts and recreation services industry depend on the type of art or recreational activity being managed or undertaken, but largely relate to:

Live performances, events or exhibits

These include artists, musicians, writers, performers and venue operators.

  • event permits
  • food vendor permit
  • provision of liquor at functions or venues
  • broadcast of copyright material
  • filming and photography permit
  • event signage permit
  • location of events, including occupation of public spaces
  • operation of machinery at events
  • operation of vehicles and equipment
  • event features, such as fireworks.

Sporting or recreational activities

These include sports venues & clubs, gyms, amusement parks, and horse and dog racing.

  • racehorse owner and trainer registration
  • greyhound owner and trainer registration
  • operation of an amusement device
  • event permits
  • food vendor permit
  • provision of liquor at functions or venues
  • broadcast of copyright material.

Preservation businesses

These include museums, zoos, nature reserves, botanical gardens and parks.

Gambling businesses

  • permit to run a lottery
  • permit to operate gaming machines.

Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website to find out what licences and permits you need for your industry.


If you employ staff, you need to comply with Australia’s national workplace laws and the specific requirements in your industry:

Apprentices and trainees

With flexible hours and on the job training, the arts and recreation services industry lends itself easily to taking on apprentices and trainees. If you take on an apprentice or trainee, you can access a range of government support and financial help. See the Australian Apprenticeships Centre website to find out more.

Finance & tax

There are a number of tax offsets, benefits, guidance and payments specific to the arts and recreation services industry. These include:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST)
    It’s important to know your GST obligations to ensure you are selling your products and services at the correct price and that you’re registered with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to ensure you can claim your GST credits. Visit the ATO website for GST details specific to your industry.
  • Cultural Gifts Program - encourages donations of items with cultural significance to public collections through tax incentives.
  • Register of Cultural Organisations - allows cultural bodies on the register to receive tax deductible donations.
  • State taxes on gaming machines – State governments impose a tax on the profits of gaming machines. Contact your state revenue office or local state gaming office for details on payments.

To find more finance and tax guidance, take a look at:

  • record keeping from the ATO about what records you should keep
  • the Australian Tax Office website to find out more about Income and deductions for business such as offsets, rebates, deductions, depreciation and disaster assistance
  • our general taxation information
  • more detailed information on how to manage your finances.


There are a number of government grants available for the arts and recreation services industry relating to promoting art and creativity within communities, supporting the development of artists, and assisting cultural and community events. In particular, the Public lending rights scheme is available to eligible Australian authors and creators in recognition of lost income from the availability of their books in educational libraries.

Search Grants & Assistance to find more grants and assistance programs for the arts and recreation services industry.

Workplace Health & Safety (WHS)

As well as the general occupational health and safety regulations, there are also some state-specific WHS requirements relevant to the arts and recreation services industry, including:

  • manual handling of equipment
  • working with dangerous animals
  • biosecurity when working with animals
  • zoo safety for the protection of staff and general public
  • working at height
  • noise and vibration
  • working with electricity
  • working alone
  • vehicles and equipment safety
  • preparing for emergency evacuations.

Need help understanding your WHS obligations? Try these government resources:


As well as compulsory insurance such as workers compensation, there are also a number of specific insurance options available for businesses in the arts and recreation services industry.

Insurance options vary depending on your business type but can include insurance for:

  • public liability
  • artists and performers
  • artwork
  • cultural objects
  • props and costumes
  • art and musical equipment
  • events, including event cancellation
  • sporting players and teams
  • vehicles and machinery
  • zoo and aquarium animals.

Visit Insurance and workers compensation for details on general insurance options for business.

Intellectual Property (IP)

As well as trade marks, there are other IP rights that may be relevant to arts and recreation services businesses such as:

  • Copyright – copyright protection is free and automatic in Australia and protects works such as films, music, books, magazines, newspapers, sound recordings & artwork.
  • Copyright – In particular to play, use or reproduce film, sound or video recordings. To obtain a licence, visit the APRA AMCOS website.
  • Patents - protects inventions such as new equipment, new machinery, new systems or processes.

IP Australia is the federal government agency responsible for granting rights in patents, trade marks and designs. Visit the IP Australia website to find out more about your IP options.

Industry training

Industry training can be an important part of your business survival. New techniques, trends, technologies, safety standards and equipment can all impact the way you run your business. Need some help getting started?

  • See Training for tips on training yourself and your staff.
  • Search Events to find government events, seminars, training courses and workshops.


Many businesses in the arts and recreation services industry are heavily involved in the preservation and conservation of flora and fauna including operators of parks, natural reserves, botanical gardens and zoos. Other businesses in this industry group such as artists, performers, event organisers and sporting venues can also make environmentally conscious decisions such as usage of sustainable equipment and providing recycling facilities during events. The main environmental issues that businesses in the arts and recreation services industry should be aware of include:

Visit our Environmental management topic for advice on how you can manage your impact on the environment.

Key government organisations & websites

The key federal government agencies and websites relevant to the arts and recreation services industry include:

The key state and territory government agencies relevant to arts and sporting businesses include:

​The key state and territory government agencies relevant to gaming businesses include:

© Commonwealth of Australia 2016. 

This content was first published on



Follow Us
Follow us on