What can we learn from the Italian ‘After the Interval’ survey?

As lockdown measures ease and events go back on sale, Italian cultural audiences are beginning to book tickets again - but many are still reluctant to return to live events.

What can the UK learn about the next few weeks and months from our Italian counterparts?

Teatro Stabile del FVG

Il Rossetti, Trieste (c) Simone Di Luca

Following the release of the first wave of results from our After the Interval survey, Indigo were approached by Il Rossetti: Teatro Stabile del Friuli Venezia Giulia to run the survey in Italy.

We worked with Executive Director Stefano Curti who translated and facilitated the Italian research. Participating organisations across the country had their own links which they sent out to groups of recent and frequent attenders.

Today they have released the findings from the research.

Research methodology

The questions asked were almost identical to the questions asked of UK audiences, other than some small differences around ticket booking models and additional options which reflected the evolving Covid-19 situation.

55 cultural institutions took part in the research, and there were 31,000 responses from Italian cultural audience members.

The research in Italy took place about 5 weeks later than the first wave of our After the Interval survey:  

  • UK wave 1: 16 April - 6 May 2020
  • Italy wave 1: 27 May - 22 June 2020

A comparison between the Italian and UK data

Italy is considered to be 2-4 weeks ahead of the UK in their experience of Covid-19. Could these results give us an idea of how our cultural audiences might be feeling in 6-8 weeks?

There are a few differences between the Italian and UK respondents:

  • The Italian data is made up of responses from more frequent cultural attenders - 63% of them attend live cultural events more than 4 times per year, compared to 55% of the UK audiences.
  • Both sets of responses come from audiences of a wide range of cultural organisations, including theatres, arts centres, orchestras and others. However, the Italian data includes more responses from audiences of live music events.
  • The Italian respondents are younger on average than the UK respondents; 52% of the Italian theatre audience is over 55, compared to 61% of the UK respondents, while 52% of the Italian live music audience is between 25 - 44 years.

What do the results show?

  • Italian audiences have missed attending live cultural events even more than we have. 96% of the Italian respondents said that they have missed live events, compared to 93% of UK respondents, with 73% saying they have missed them ‘a lot’.
  • Above all, Italian respondents are looking forward to seeing performers they know or admire in the flesh (81%), while UK respondents want to get back to the ‘buzz’ of live performance (74%) and be able to support their local venue again (55%). 
  • As lockdown measures relax in Italy, 30.5% of respondents said they are currently booking or planning to book tickets for live events - a significant increase on the 17% in the UK where very few future events are on sale. Although they are more likely to be booking, over half of those booking tickets are still only booking for events from November 2020 onwards. 
  • Italian audiences are starting to feel more comfortable about returning to live events - 23% of Italian respondents said they would return to events as soon as venues reopen, compared to 19% of UK respondents.
  • However, as in the UK, there is still a large portion who are more cautious, with 31% of Italian respondents saying they would prefer to stay away from large gatherings, or wait for a vaccine, to protect themselves.
  • Of those not currently booking for events, a significant number of respondents in both data sets said they would wait at least 4 months before booking (40% in Italy and 42% in the UK).
  • 2/3 of Italian respondents said that some form of social distancing measures in venues would make them feel more comfortable returning - a lower proportion than the 3/4 of UK respondents.

Final thoughts

We were very pleased to be able to collaborate with Teatro Stabile del FVG to make After the Interval available for Italian cultural organisations.

The similarity between the audience responses shows how devastating the impact of Covid-19 has been on the cultural landscapes of both our countries.

However, the differences in audience sentiment perhaps offer some hope for the UK, as we see Italian cultural attenders returning to booking tickets and attending events as lockdown measures ease.

Learning from each other, and sharing findings from our audiences, will be vital to successfully rebuilding the global cultural sector - we look forward to continuing this partnership.

Press coverage

The survey has been covered in the Italian media:

  • il Friuli, Dopo l'intervallo, la luce in fondo al tunnel | Read →
  • AgCult, Cultura, presentata la ricerca “After the interval": italiani vogliono tornare a seguire lo spettacolo | Read →

Download the full report

Flo Carr
Associate Director

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