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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 third phase of the study are now available, with the key insights outlined in the September Snapshot report.

All data is available in the Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard, with results from over 23,000 respondents in Phase 1, over 15,000 respondents in Phase 2 and over 12,000 respondents in Phase 3.




Key findings from the third phase include:

  • Audience views on attending are stable or increasing. In September 2020, 29% of past attendees are ready to attend as soon as permitted. However, this varies across the states/territories
  • 29% of past attendees have returned to a cultural event recently. The proportion of audiences that attended a cultural event of any kind in the past fortnight has increased from 24% in July to 29% in September, as more venues and facilities reopen.
  • As performances return to venues, more people are buying tickets. The proportion who are buying tickets has grown from 10% to 14%, and over half of ticket buyers are buying tickets for events this month (51%).
  • Social distancing is helping more people feel comfortable at large venues. Comfort levels have also increased with a range of performance venues including large theatres and concert halls (67%, up from 61%) and comedy clubs or live music venues (37%, up from 34%).
  • The majority of audiences now accept the use of face masks. In September 2020, 70% say they would find face masks encouraging.
  • Most audiences are satisfied with venue safety. Many also acknowledge the circumstances where venue staff had made extra efforts to make people comfortable and make the experiences as ‘normal’ as possible.
  • Outdoor events and digital streaming continue to be the most popular formats. However, the proportion who put digital streaming as their first choice has dropped back slightly across Australia (35%, down from 39%) and slightly more people now rank outdoor events more highly (39%).
  • Slightly more people are paying for experiences, but not necessarily spending more. When asked if they have paid for an experience online, 39% of respondents said they have, compared to 36% in July and 34% in May 2020.

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