This report summarises sales data from Audience Finder to support the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Arts Council England (ACE) and cultural organisations in planning their response to Covid-19.

This report provides information on the ‘typical’ year of sales (overall, for ACE National Portfolio Organisations and by Area and art form) as well as sales in 2020 compared to that benchmark.

It contains the following analysis:

  1. Income per week (overall and by art form, inc. cumulative overall).
  2. Tickets per week.
  3. Summary of the ‘theatre year’: income, tickets, bookers and bookings per week, average value of transactions and tickets by week.
  4. The number of performances per week overall and by art form.
  5. Audience Spectrum profile by week (inc. which are above/below average for each type).
  6. Sales by Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), overall and split by Region/Area..

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Regular Updates

We will also regularly update a separate Ghost Light report containing the following charts, to track how the situation progresses:

  • All AF orgs’ combined income by week
  • All AF cumulative income by week
  • NPO income by week
  • NPO cumulative income by week
  • NPO income by Area by week

For more information about the Background and Methodology, more on Audience Finder and Audience Spectrum, see the end of the report.

Explore the Ghost Light Snapshots

Key Findings

  • Substantial drops in income for venues in the Audience Finder dataset are already starkly evident: £83M overall and £48M for NPOs, between weeks 11-14 of the year (w/c 8/3/20 onwards). This is already equivalent to 1.8M unsold tickets overall, with £14M losses in the most recent week alone (week 14; w/c 29/3).
  • Sales vary substantially throughout the year. How long the closure of venues continues will make substantial differences to venues’ income, not only based on the total length of time (at £16.4M income per week on average), but also on the time of year covered. The four quarters of the year account for 24%, 24%, 20% and 31% respectively: weekly sales grow nearly every week from the beginning of September to the end of the year (when they are 3.4 times the sales at the end of August). If venues are still closed in the autumn, their financial challenges will accelerate quickly.
  • Weeks 49 onwards (approximately covering December) accounts for 14% of the year’s sales. Missing those sales would be a particular blow to many venues (notably panto season). ‘Christmas Shows’ account for £63.4M of sales each year, 7% of total sales. There are a further £20M of Dance sales between December and February, equivalent to 34% of that artform’s annual sales. The Christmas sales peak is due in particular to larger bookings (due to Christmas Shows). This is also when middle- and lower-engaged groups are more likely to attend.
  • There is lots of variety in the specific patterns of sales for different organisations, Areas, art forms and audience types (e.g. while venues’ overall activity is reduced during the high summer, this is less strongly the case for music and musical theatre, and in London and the South).

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