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COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor

May 18, 2020

COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor

May 18, 2020

COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor webinars

Findings from Phase 2 were discussed in a webinar held on Wednesday 29 July. The Phase 1 webinar series explored different topics within the Audience Outlook Monitor by digging deeper into the results with industry experts. 

Watch the webinars

The Australia Council is working with Patternmakers and WolfBrown to understand changes in behaviours and sentiments of arts-goers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to support decision-making and forward planning across the sector.

Restrictions on public gatherings and travel have forced many in the arts community to shut their doors and cancel programs and activities. This tracking study is designed to support important decision-making in the coming months about when to open again and resume programming in spaces where people physically gather.

The Audience Outlook Monitor provides artists, cultural organisations and the broader arts sector with valuable information as changes occur.

Results from the second phase of the study are now available, with the key insights outlined in the July Snapshot Report. The final data collection phase is planned for September 2020.

All data is available in the Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard, with results from over 23,000 respondents in Phase 1 and over 15,000 respondents in Phase 2.

Key findings from the second phase include:

  • Audiences are increasingly ready to return to attend cultural events in most locations as soon as permitted (28%, up from 22% in May).
  • One in four past attendees have started returning to cultural events (24%) with museums and galleries (12%) and cinemas (9%) the most common venues.
  • Audiences are increasingly comfortable to attend performance venues of all sizes, assuming they were open, following safety procedures and observing social distancing guidelines.
  • One in ten people had bought a ticket for live show or performance, with lead times becoming shorter as most ticketholders buying tickets less than one month out.
  • Four in ten people would prefer a digital program rather than attending in person right now (39%).
  • Some audiences are feeling more pessimistic about returning to events long-term, with almost a quarter saying their future attendance will be negatively affected (22%, up from 15% in May).
  • Most people expect to spend the same on arts and culture events as they did before (72%), but one in five expect to spend less (15%).
  • Audiences remain engaged with creative activities at home like listening to music (89%) and reading for pleasure (86%). Three in four are participating in online cultural experiences (73%) consistent with findings in May. 
  • Slightly more people are paying for online experiences (36%, up from 34% in May), and they are spending more with almost two in five having spent more than $50 in the past fortnight.

About the study

The Audience Outlook Monitor captures ‘active’ arts audiences – those who are on the contact database of at least one of the 159 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 159 participating museums, galleries, festivals and organisations.

Baseline data for this tracking study was collected in a cross-sector collaborative survey process involving 159 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 Film Festival
Adelaide Fringe
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Art Gallery of Ballarat
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art on The Move
Art, Not Apart
Arts Centre Melbourne
Arts Margaret River Inc
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
Australian Dance Theatre
Australian Festival of Chamber Music
Australian Museum
Australian Theatre for Young People
Barking Gecko Theatre
Bathurst Regional Council T/A Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre
Belconnen Arts Centre
Bell Shakespeare
Bendigo Venues & Events
Biennale of Sydney
Black Swan State Theatre Company
Brisbane Festival
Brisbane Multicultural Art Centre (BEMAC)
Brisbane Powerhouse
Brisbane Writers Festival
Brown’s Mart Arts Ltd
Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre
Bundaberg Regional Council
Bunjil Place (City of Casey)
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Campbelltown Arts Centre
Canberra Glassworks
Canberra Youth Theatre
Centre for Contemporary Photography
Chamber of Arts and Culture WA
Chunky Move
Circa Contemporary Circus
Circus Oz
Colac Otway Performing Arts & Cultural Centre
Country Arts SA
Cultural Media
Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation Ltd
Darwin Entertainment Centre
Design Centre Tasmania
Drum Theatre
Electronic Music Conference (EMC)
Empire Theatres Pty Ltd
Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne
Feast Queer Arts and Cultural Festival
Footscray Community Arts Centre
Forge Theatre and Arts Hub
FORM building a state of creativity
Frankston Arts Centre
Fremantle Press Inc
Geelong Arts Centre
Geelong Gallery
Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre
Goldfields Arts Centre
Hayes Theatre Co
History Trust of South Australia
HOTA, Home of the Arts
HotHouse Theatre
Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne
Information + Cultural Exchange
Ipswich Civic Centre
La Boite Theatre Company
Lighthouse Theatre Warrnambool
Linden New Art Inc
Lismore Regional Gallery
Logan Entertainment Centre – Logan City Council
Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre
Malthouse Theatre
Melbourne Fringe
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Melbourne International Jazz Festival
Melbourne Recital Centre
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Melbourne Theatre Company
Merrigong Theatre Company
Mildura Arts Centre
Multicultural Arts Victoria
Museums Victoria
Music Victoria
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
Orange Civic Theatre
Penrith Performing & Visual Arts
Perth Festival
Perth Theatre Trust
Perth Theatre Trust – Albany Entertainment Centre
Platform Youth Arts
Powerhouse Museum
Propel Youth Arts WA
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Queensland Museum Network
Queensland Music Festival
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Queensland Theatre
Real Film Festival
Red Chair Pty Ltd
Royal Historical Society of Victoria
SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival
Scribblers Festival
Smith’s Alternative
South Australian Museum
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
State Library of Queensland
State Library Victoria
State Opera South Australia
State Theatre Company South Australia
SWELL Sculpture Festival
Sydney Dance Company
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Philharmonia Choirs
Sydney Theatre Company
Sydney Writers’ Festival Ltd
Synergy & Taikoz Ltd
The Australian Ballet
The Cube Wodonga
The Events Centre, Caloundra
The Glasshouse
The Sydney Fringe Inc
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
The Unconformity
The Wheeler Centre
Theatre North Inc
Theatre Works
Townsville City Council
Townsville City Council Galleries
Tura New Music
Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts
Victorian Music Development Office
Victorian Opera
Wangaratta Performing Arts & Convention Centre
West Australian Ballet
West Australian Opera
West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Western Australian Museum
Womadelaide foundation Ltd
Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company