COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor April 2023

Jan 27, 2023

We are again working with Patternmakers and WolfBrown in 2023 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 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study continues to bring timely and essential data on audience sentiment and trends to support planning and decision-making for arts and creative organisations.

Results from the April 2023 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, economic uncertainty is taking root in the post-pandemic context, with the heightened cost-of-living pressures impacting consumer confidence around the country. Other factors, such as shifting priorities and energy levels, continue to impact one-quarter (24%) of audiences.

All data is available in the Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard, with results from over 95,150 responses across phases 1–8, the ‘Pulse Check’ 2022 and the ‘Pulse Check’ 2023.

Key findings from the April 2023 phase include:

  • Nationally, audiences in all age groups are citing financial barriers, with certain audience segments being more negatively affected than others. Rising housing costs are affecting families more than households without children (61%). Young audiences are attending at slightly lower rates than other adults right now (67% vs 76%). Audiences over 55 are the most likely age group to experience no barriers to attending right now (27%). 
  • Most audiences continue to attend events amid costof-living pressures, but the profile of those attending and their attendance preferences are changing.In April 2023, three quarters of past attendees (76%) attended a cultural activity, which is consistent with October 2022 and August 2022. Older audiences (those aged 55+) are the most likely to be attending right now (78%). Younger audiences (those under 35) are least likely to have attended a cultural activity recently (67%) – a notable decline since October 2022 (77%). 
  • Half of audiences indicate that both the price they are willing to pay to attend and their frequency of attendance have decreased. Price sensitivities are affecting 6 in 10 (59%) of those attending, down slightly from August (63%) and October 2022 (63%). Around half are looking for ‘free and cheap’ things to attend (54%) and discounts and pricing offers are factoring into a high number of decisions, particularly among families and young people. 
  • Audiences from various socioeconomic backgrounds are both ‘saving’ and ‘splurging’ on cultural activities. A significant portion of audiences earning $650-$999 per week (27%), as well as those earning $3,000+ (29%), agree that they have found things to ‘splurge’ on in the past 6 months, given their financial situation.Similarly, audiences in all categories are looking for ‘free/cheap things to do’ – a sign that there is universal demand for affordable arts experiences. 
  • Other factors such as shifting priorities and energy levels are impacting attendance. A quarter (24%) of respondents are prioritising other things in their life right now, consistent with findings in October 2022 (24%). However, the long-term effects of the pandemic continue to affect some audiences’ stamina for attending. Around 2 in 10 (18%) say they lack energy to go out, consistent with October 2022 (19%).  
  • Uplifting content has been identified as attractive to audiences over the coming year – while last-minute ticket buying is likely to remain a trend. In April 2023, 95% of audiences are most interested in attending fun, uplifting performances in the coming year – and 85% want to try new things they haven’t experienced before. One quarter (26%) of audience members suggested they would be likely to book events within the next seven days; over two fifths of audience participants would be likely to book events in the next 2-3 weeks (43%). 

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

Delivery partner

Supporting partners

List of participating organisations


Adelaide Festival Centre

Adelaide Fringe

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Art Gallery of Ballarat



Arts Centre Melbourne

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

Australian Museum

Australian Theatre for Young People

Bangarra Dance Theatre

Bell Shakespeare


Bendigo Venues & Events

Black Swan State Theatre Company

Brisbane Festival

Campbelltown Arts Centre

Canberra Theatre Centre


Centre for Contemporary Photography

Chunky Move

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

Geelong Gallery

Hayes Theatre Co

HOTA, Home of the Arts

Information + Cultural Exchange

Ipswich Civic Centre

Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre

Melbourne Fringe

Melbourne Recital Centre

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Mildura Arts Centre

Museums Victoria

Music Victoria

Musica Viva

National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)

National Museum of Australia

Opera Australia

Opera Queensland

Penrith Performing & Visual Arts

Percussion Australia

Perth Festival

Perth Theatre Trust

Albany Entertainment Centre

Perth Theatre Trust

Queensland Art Gallery

Queensland Ballet

Queensland Museum Network

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

Queensland Symphony


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 Unconformity

The Wheeler Centre

Victorian Music Development Office

Victorian Opera


Wangaratta Performing Arts & Convention Centre

West Australian Ballet

West Australian Opera

West Australian Symphony Orchestra

Windmill Theatre Company

Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company

Webinar: How rising inflation is impacting audiences: Audience Outlook Monitor, 2023

Tandi Palmer Williams, Managing Director Patternmakers, and Ella Huisman, Executive Director, Audience Adelaide Fringe, discuss the main findings and results from the April 2023 phase of data collection. 

Discover more about how various audience segments are responding to rising cost-of-living pressures and hear suggestions for how arts organisations can augment their marketing, programming and ticketing initiatives to best engage audiences at this time. 

About the series

The Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study supports decision-making and forward planning across the arts and cultural sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baseline data was collected in May 2020 in a cross-sector collaborative survey process involving 159 arts and cultural 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, 2022 and January 2023. New fact sheets will be available in August 2023. 

The Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study was extended for a further three phases in 2023, with a new focus on cost-of-living pressures and other factors impacting on audience behaviour. The first two phases of data collection will occur in April 2023 and August 2023, and the final data will be collected in October 2023.