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COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor 2021

March 4, 2021

COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor 2021

March 4, 2021

COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor webinars

Join Tandi Palmer Williams, Managing Director Patternmakers and Morwenna Collett, arts consultant specialising in diversity, access and inclusion to discuss findings from the March 2021 Snapshot Report.

Date: Tuesday 29 June
Time: 12-12.45 AEST.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the Australia Council is working with Patternmakers and WolfBrown again in 2021 to understand changes in behaviours and sentiments of arts-goers in the wake of the pandemic.

Restrictions on public gatherings and travel forced many in the arts community to shut their doors and cancel programs and activities. Throughout 2020, the Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study provided the arts and cultural sector with crucial insights to inform planning and decision-making.

Now, as doors are reopening and programming resuming, the Audience Outlook Monitor will continue to provide valuable information with three more phases in 2021. Amid the ongoing disruption of the pandemic, we will continue to track audience sentiments and behaviours as changes occur.

Results from the March 2021 phase (Phase 4) of the study are now available, with the key insights outlined in a new Snapshot report.

All data is available in the Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard, with results from over 63,000 respondents across Phases 1–4.

Key findings from March 2021 include:

  • Seven in ten have attended a cultural event or venue. Due to increasing numbers of events and outdoor programming over summer, 71% have recently attended a cultural venue or event of some kind, and audiences are spending more on ticket sales compared with September 2020.
  • After months of very low infection rates, confidence to attend events in person is growing stronger. The primary reason inhibiting attendance is no longer the risk of transmission, but the risk of lockdowns and cancelled events.
  • Eight in ten audiences are making plans to attend, albeit with shorter lead times. Most are booking tickets only 2-3 weeks in advance.
  • Overall, audiences are generally satisfied with most COVID-safe practices at most types of venues. However, some are concerned about inconsistency in capacity and social distancing requirements.
  • Audiences now feel comfortable with most venue types, including those where audiences were previously more cautious such as stadiums or arenas (76%, up from 53% in September 2020) and comedy clubs and live music venues (56% up from 37%). Comfort levels with large theatres or concerts halls has risen to 91% up from 67%.
  • Nearly half of all audiences continue to participate online (47%), and many plan to continue. However, some audiences are tiring of digital experiences and face barriers to online participation.
  • The proportion of users paying for online content is now 37%, comparable to levels seen in September 2020 (39%), pointing to an enduring market for premium digital experiences.
  • Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, the outlook is positive, with 94% of audiences planning to get vaccinated, and most at least somewhat confident that the vaccination roll-out will help things return to normal within 12 months.

About the study

The Audience Outlook Monitor captures ‘active’ arts audiences – those who are on the contact database of at least one of the participating organisations and have attended a cultural event since January 2018 – rather than the general population. The results will be most relevant for activities that rely on people being in public spaces, similar to those of the participating museums, galleries, festivals and organisations.

Baseline data for this tracking study was collected in a cross-sector collaborative survey process involving arts and culture organisations, including museums, galleries, performing arts organisations and festivals. These organisations simultaneously sent a survey to a random sample of their audiences, who had attended a cultural event since January 2018.

The responses span a diverse range of event types and encompass people who attend all types of events. The large sample provides detailed insights about different art forms, types of events, demographic groups and parts of Australia.

Read more about the methodology and the types of events which are included.

Karina Utomo performs in the 2019 Perth Festival production of Cat Hope’s Speechless, produced by Tura New Music. Credit: Toni Wilkinson

Delivery partners

Supporting partners

List of participating organisations

Adelaide Festival Centre
Adelaide Fringe
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Art Gallery of Ballarat
Arts Centre Melbourne
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
Australian Dance Theatre
Australian Festival of Chamber Music
Australian Museum
Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP)
Bangarra Dance Theatre
Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre (Bathurst Regional Council)
Belconnen Arts Centre
Bell Shakespeare
Belvoir St Theatre
Bendigo Venues & Events
Black Swan State Theatre Co
Brisbane Festival
Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre
Brown’s Mart Theatre
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Ltd
Campbelltown Arts Centre
Canberra Theatre Centre
Canberra Youth Theatre
Centre for Contemporary Photography
Chunky Move
Circus Oz
Colac Otway Performing Arts & Cultural Centre (COPACC)
Country Arts SA
Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre
Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation Ltd
Design Tasmania
Dionysus / Art, Not Apart
Drum Theatre Dandenong
Electronic Music Conference Pty Ltd
Empire Theatres
Feast Festival
Footscray Community Arts Centre
Forge Theatre and Arts Hub (East Gippsland Shire Council)
Frankston Arts Centre
Geelong Arts Centre
Geelong Gallery
History Trust of South Australia
HOTA, Home of the Arts
Information + Cultural Exchange
Ipswich Civic Centre
La Boite Theatre Company
Lighthouse Theatre
Linden New Art
Lismore Regional Gallery
Logan Entertainment Centre
Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre
Malthouse Theatre
Melbourne Fringe
Melbourne International Jazz Festival
Melbourne Recital Centre
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Melbourne Theatre Company
Merrigong Theatre Company
Mildura Arts Centre – Mildura Rural City Council
Museums Victoria
Music Victoria
Musica Viva
National Gallery of Australia
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
National Museum of Australia
National Portrait Gallery
Nexus Arts
No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability
Opera Australia
Opera Queensland
Penrith Performing & Visual Arts
Perth Festival
Perth Theatre Trust
Perth Theatre Trust — Albany
Powerhouse Museum
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Queensland Ballet
Queensland Museum Network
Queensland Music Festival
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Queensland Theatre
Red Chair Pty Ltd
Royal Historical Society of Victoria
SALA Festival
Screenworks (Australia)
South Australian Museum
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
State Library of Queensland
State Library Victoria
State Opera South Australia
State Theatre Company South Australia
Sydney Dance Company
Sydney Living Museums
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Philharmonia Choirs
Sydney Theatre Company
Sydney Writer’s Festival (Phase 5&6 only)
Synergy & Taikoz Ltd
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
The Australian Ballet
The Cube Wodonga
The Events Centre, Caloundra
The Street Theatre
The Substation
The Sydney Fringe
The Unconformity
The Wheeler Centre
Theatre Works
Townsville City Council
Victorian Music Development Office
Victorian Opera
Wangaratta Performing Arts & Convention Centre
West Australian Ballet
West Australian Opera
West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Western Australian Museum
Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company