Looking at which audiences are most and least willing to attend live events in the near future and which are more or less likely to have already booked for them.

The Cultural Participation Monitor asks the question:

In terms of COVID safety, which best describes your attitude to attending...?

  • I am happy to attend right now if there was something I wanted to see or do
  • I would consider attending, but with some reservations
  • I am not comfortable with this at the moment
  • I'm not interested in doing this

Just over six months and nearly five million vaccinations after our initial examination into audiences' willingness to attend, we are taking a look at how people's attitude to in-person cultural engagement has (or has not) changed.

A tale of three stances

  1. A third of the respondents are still "not comfortable" attending cultural activities before critical mass double vaccination is achieved. Surprisingly, this figure has only risen very slightly since February, despite millions of first doses having been administered in the interim.
  2. The immediate impact on sales overall, however, is likely to be offset by the enthusiastic return of the third of the population who are “happy to attend”, these being mostly younger and/or more metropolitan respondents.
  3. Still though, organisations should pay particular attention to the need for reassurance of the third of the market who would attend but “with some reservations”. Social distancing measures remain very important to this major pool of 'gettable' but not guaranteed audiences.

Browse our latest findings in more detail and see how the picture differs from what we were seeing before the Christmas mega-spike...

June 2021 Findings

November 2020 Findings


June 2021 Findings

Slow Return

Substantial proportions of the public remain reluctant to attend live events, with little change since February, when post-Christmastime COVID deaths were still extremely high.

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  • Slightly fewer than one in three are ‘happy to attend’ now (without reservations); fewer than six in ten ‘would [at least] consider’ attending.
  • These proportions are higher for those who had attended arts and cultural events in the twelve months before COVID (33% and 67% respectively) but do suggest that one in three previous attenders are not yet ready to attend.
  • This reluctance is likely to be lower for historically most frequent attenders, which would mean that it would have greater impact on breadth of audience than total volume.

Event Types

There are marginal differences in people’s confidence to attend particular types of events.

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  • Although audience profiles vary between artforms, the overall differences in willingness to attend are moderate.
  • People are more confident about outdoor and cinema at one end of the scale and least confident about “indoor museums” at the other.
  • Metropolitan audiences – specifically London – are more confident than those elsewhere.

Audience Profiles

Attitudes vary more by audience 'type' than by artform.

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  • Younger people are substantially more likely to be happy to attend (double the proportions of 25-34 year olds than those 65+, for example.)
  • Differences between London and non-London audiences (based on profile) are more substantial. A few examples are given below1:
  • This would suggest that demand-side recovery is likely to be slower outside the capital, which is where further organisational support would be especially beneficial, particularly where business models depend on ticketing income.

Implications

  • Organisations may need further support if consumer confidence continues to lag, though this need may be masked by early enthusiasm to re-engage among a large minority of the population. It is important not to overestimate longer-term returning patterns based on that minority.
  • The relative scarcity of events, pent-up demand and growing “social proof” may see organisations through re-opening before any longer terms crisis of reduced market size hits.
  • Monitoring shifts in consumer confidence – rather than levels of vaccination per se – will be all-important in determining the level of longer term crisis that could hit following the initial waves of returners.


November 2020 Findings

The first wave of the COVID-19 Cultural Participation Monitor (fieldwork: late Oct/early Nov 2020) included the question:

In terms of Covid-19 safety, which best describes your attitude to attending...?

  • I am happy to attend right now if there was something I wanted to see or do
  • I would consider attending, but with some reservations
  • I am not comfortable with this at the moment
  • I'm not interested in doing this
This was asked about events in: And analysed by splits of:
  • Outdoor spaces
  • Seated indoor spaces
  • Non-seated indoor space
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Region
  • Audience Spectrum

Age

  • Younger audiences were more likely to be happy to attend all three venues.
  • Younger audiences were also more likely to have booked already.

Ethnicity

  • White audiences were more likely to be happy to attend all three venue types.
  • Asian/Asian British and Black/Black British audiences were particularly hesitant about events in outdoor settings.
  • There was little difference by ethnicity in the proportions who had booked or were interested in booking, with White respondents being slightly less likely.

Region or Nation

  • English audiences were more likely to be happy to attend all three venues.
  • Scotland, Wales and especially Northern Ireland were much more reluctant.
  • London and South East audiences were most likely to have booked or be interested in booking.
  • Audiences in Wales in particular were less likely to have booked or be keen to.

Audience Spectrum


Summary Findings Nov 2020

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Who is more/less likely to attend in person now?

Audiences were more likely to be happy to attend now if they were: Audiences were less likely to be happy to attend now if they were:

Who is more/less likely to book a live event at the moment?

Audiences were more likely to have already booked or be interested in booking if they were: Audiences were less likely to have already booked or be interested in booking if they were:

Implications

  • This analysis suggests that the return of audiences is likely to be earlier for those who are younger and metropolitan, esp. in London and the South East, with notable reluctance from Heydays, Home & Heritage and Commuterland Culturebuffs.
  • This matches the groups who returned between lockdowns*.
  • This could mean that there is an aggregate shift toward more experimental, varied and contemporary artforms, and away from more traditional work.
  • It may also indicate that audiences are slower to return in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which may require additional support for cultural infrastructure from the devolved administrations.

*See our report ‘Between Lockdowns’ for details.

See the full report with charts and graphs



This report is part of a national research programme led by the Centre for Cultural Value in collaboration with the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and The Audience Agency.

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through UK Research and Innovation’s COVID-19 rapid rolling call.

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MORE RESEARCH ON AUDIENCE BEHAVIOURS, ATTITUDES AND EXPECTATIONS DURING COVID: