Audience Outlook Monitor:
Audience Trends for Summer and 2023
Watch as Tandi Palmer Williams, Managing Director Patternmakers and Liz Tomkinson, Manager Multi-Year Investment at the Australia Council for the Arts discuss the main findings and results from the October 2022 Phase.
Time: 12-12.45pm AEDT
Please note: the recording of this session will be available soon.
Wed 26 October 2022
The Australia Council is working with Patternmakers and WolfBrown again in 2022 to understand changes in the behaviours and sentiments of arts-goers.
Since 2020, the Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study has provided the arts and cultural sector with crucial insights regarding behaviours and sentiments of arts audiences over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. It continues to bring timely and essential data and trends on audience sentiment and trends to support planning and decision-making for arts and creative organisations.
Results from the October 2022 phase of data collection are now available, and key insights are outlined in a new snapshot report. The data suggests that audiences are enjoying the buzz of more arts and cultural events. Returning to cultural events has enabled recent attendees to feel connected, inspired and enriched.
However, financial barriers are slowing market recovery. Financial reasons have now overtaken concerns for COVID-19 transmission as the main barrier to attendance.
As the long tail of the pandemic continues to affect attendance – on average, audiences are attending less than they did before COVID-19 – a range of broader factors are also playing into attendance preferences and decisions.
All data is available in the Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard, with results from over 94,000 respondents across phases 1–8 and the August 2022 ‘Pulse Check’.
Key findings from the October 2022 phase include:
- Nationally, a greater proportion of audiences are attending events, but they do so less frequently than before the pandemic. In October, three-quarters (75%) attended a cultural event (up from 70% in March 2022). However, the frequency of attendance was lower (22%) than it was prior to the pandemic (39%).
- Most audiences perceive arts venues as safe and are feeling more comfortable engaging with hands-on exhibits. Attendance at arts venues is stable, with large theatres and concert halls at 94% (up from 88% in March 2022) and 98% for museums and galleries. Interaction with hands-on exhibits is at all-time high (74%, up from 57% in March 2022).
- Financial reasons are now the top barrier to attendance. Price sensitivities have increased for 4 in 10 audiences, up from 24% in August 2022. This is a departure from previous phases, when the risk of the virus outstripped financial barriers (38% in October, compared to 46% in August).
- A range of broader factors influence attendance decisions. The lack of interesting events is one of the hurdles to participation, according to audiences (32%) as well as prioritising social events and key milestone Another issue affecting audiences is re-entry social anxiety (19%).
- COVID-19 remains a significant barrier for some audience segments. A smaller portion of audiences (38%, down from 46% in August and 52% in March 2022) say the risk of transmission will inhibit their attendance.
- Most audiences are using their own discretion around COVID-safety. The majority of audiences (63%) are willing to implement safety precautions such as wearing masks based on their perceived level of risk. The remaining third are divided: 20% say they ‘never wear a mask’ and 17% say they ‘always wear a mask’.
- There is an appetite for new, uplifting, or challenging cultural experiences. Audiences generally agree they want to attend things they used to attend in the past (84%). However, more than a half (58%) want to engage with new uplifting content.
About the study
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 arts sector.
Baseline data for the Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study was collected in May 2020 in a cross-sector collaborative survey process involving 159 arts and culture organisations, including museums, galleries, performing arts organisations and festivals.
Launched in 2020, the Audience Outlook Monitor webinar series explores different topics within the data and digs deeper into the results with industry experts. Fact sheets on specific topics are available from 2020, 2021, and March 2022
As effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study has been extended for a further three phases in 2022, with the first of these two occurring in March 2022 and August 2022. Data collection for a further phase of data collection are scheduled for later in 2022.
In 2022, key topics such as attendance and engagement outlook, as well as digital participation will be explored across three phases of data collection.
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
List of participating organisations
Adelaide Festival Centre
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Art Gallery of Ballarat
ART ON THE MOVE
Arts Centre Melbourne
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
Australian Theatre for Young People
Bangarra Dance Theatre
Bendigo Venues & Events
Black Swan State Theatre Company
Campbelltown Arts Centre
Canberra Theatre Centre
Centre for Contemporary Photography
Circa Contemporary Circus
City of Newcastle/Civic Theatre
Corrugated Iron Youth Arts
Country Arts SA
Empire Theatres Pty Ltd
Forge Theatre and Arts Hub
Frankston Arts Centre
Geelong Arts Centre
Hayes Theatre Co
HOTA, Home of the Arts
Information + Cultural Exchange
Ipswich Civic Centre
Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre
Melbourne Recital Centre
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Mildura Arts Centre
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
National Museum of Australia
Penrith Performing & Visual Arts
Perth Theatre Trust – Albany Entertainment Centre
Perth Theatre Trust
Queensland Art Gallery
Queensland Museum Network
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Red Chair Pty Ltd
SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival
Science Gallery Melbourne
South Australian Museum
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
State Library of Queensland
State Opera South Australia
State Theatre Company South Australia
Sydney Dance Company
Sydney Living Museums
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Philharmonia Choirs
Sydney Theatre Company
The Australian Ballet
The Events Centre, Caloundra
The Street Theatre
The Sydney Fringe Inc
The Wheeler Centre
Victorian Music Development Office
Wangaratta Performing Arts & Convention Centre
West Australian Ballet
West Australian Opera
West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Windmill Theatre Company
Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company