Delving into Audience Answers data to understand the extent to which arts engagement had recovered to pre-pandemic levels across Scotland, by the end of 2022

June 2023

Key Findings:


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  • Scottish arts & culture venues have experienced a slower recovery from the pandemic than English venues, due to the population profile (older, more rural) and the Covid restrictions affecting venues still in place into the start of 2022.
  • Ticket sales were down by a third in 2022, compared to pre-pandemic, and 22% fewer bookers attended.
  • The drop was felt more by venues in South Scotland and along the West coast. Particularly, the Highlands and & Islands already had the smallest market share and saw the largest drop.


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  • The profile of attenders is likely to be shifting – with younger people and families attending more than older groups and suburban, traditionally ‘dependable’ audience groups.


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  • The audience to Scottish venues has historically been particularly local and remains as such in 2022.
  • Ticket sales in the summer period Jul-Sep came more from within Scotland than they had done on average pre-pandemic.
  • The biggest drop in UK visitors came from London and the South of England, suggesting that some visitors to the festivals might not want to travel as far.

Sectors and Art Forms

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  • Music has grown as a proportion of tickets sold, while Christmas Shows and Film have decreased.
  • The drop in ticket sales may have been in part linked to fewer performances being put on, compared to pre-pandemic.

Read the report in full, including regional breakdowns