Responses gathered in April 2021 by the Culture Restart Audience & Visitor Tracker from the Insights Alliance (Indigo Ltd, Baker Richards and One Further) show that:
- 56% of respondents have now made bookings for cultural events in the future as confidence among audiences continues to grow
- Of those who haven’t booked, 38% expect to start booking again within the next three months but 36% say they may not return for at least 6 months or not at all
- Of those who haven’t booked, 38% would consider returning if happy with the social distancing and hygiene measures in place – and the majority of respondents expect restrictions to be in place at cultural venues
- 1 in 3 respondents say face masks and socially distanced seating are essential to their return and 59% were uncomfortable returning with no restrictions, even if subject to Covid testing
- 60% have engaged with culture online and 53% have made a donation to a cultural organisation since March 2020
Increase in future bookings and desire to return
- 78% have not attended any cultural events or venues since March last year
- 56% have now made bookings for cultural events in the future – with musical theatre and live music the most popular genres for advance bookings
With 78% of respondents in April having not attended a cultural event or venue for over a year now, desire to return continues to grow among these previously frequent cultural attenders. The 22% who did attend between lockdowns in 2020 now feel confident about returning, with an average +53% confidence score.
56% of April respondents have now made bookings for future cultural events, and increase of 8% compared to March, with live music, musical theatre and comedy the most popular genres. 40% of bookings are for events in the next 3 months and 80% within 6 months.
Hesitancy remains among those who haven’t booked
- 38% of those who haven’t booked expect to start booking again within the next three months but 36% say they may not return for at least 6 months or not at all.
- Avoiding crowds and wanting to stay flexible or book nearer the time are key reasons for not booking.
- 38% would consider returning if happy with the social distancing and hygiene measures in place.
Of the 44% of respondents who haven’t yet booked, 56% say they are trying to avoid crowds of people, 19% are reluctant to travel and 49% want to stay flexible and book nearer the time.
When asked when they think they will be ready to start booking, 38% expect to start booking again within the next three months – a significant increase compared to the 24% in February and 15% in January.
However, there is still a significant amount of uncertainty – 36% say they are either not planning to book for over 6 months, they’re not sure when or not at all. This has decreased from 52% in January.
Of those who haven’t booked, 38% would return if they felt happy with the social distancing and hygiene measures in place at venues, while 31% want to wait until venues have been open for a few months or the vaccine programme is further along.
Audiences expect restrictions in place when they return
- 1 in 3 respondents say face masks and socially distanced seating are essential to their return
- 59% were uncomfortable returning with no restrictions, even if subject to Covid testing
- Majority are ‘OK’ with a vaccine passport being required to attend events – but 25% are uncomfortable
When asked how they feel about a series of hygiene measures, restrictions and Covid testing options being implemented or considered by cultural venues, the responses from the majority of frequent cultural attenders suggests they will not feel comfortable returning to performances ‘as normal’ in the near future.
Although a much lower proportion than in earlier months, 38% of respondents still say that socially distanced seating would be ‘essential’ for their return, with 28% saying the same about face masks and 28% about one way systems.
The majority of respondents (94%) are fine with temperature screening – 77% saying they are ‘OK’ with it and 18% that it is essential. Around 2 in 3 are ‘OK’ with Covid-testing on arrival but 29% say they are not comfortable with that – and 59% say they would not be comfortable with Covid-testing meaning that no other restrictions were in place.
When asked how they feel about a vaccine passport being required to attend live events, 65% say they are ‘OK’ with that, while 25% are uncomfortable and only 10% say it is essential to their return.
A hybrid future?
- 60% have engaged with culture online
- 90% will continue to engage with events online or would consider for things they can’t see in future
Nearly 60% of April respondents say they have engaged with culture online during the last year, and over half of those have done so four or more times.
When asked how they feel about online cultural engagement when they are able to attend a suitable variety of events in person, over 30% said they would continue to engage online. A further 58% said they would consider online options for things they wouldn’t be able to see in person.
High levels of support for and trust in cultural venues
- 53% have made a donation to a cultural organisation since March 2020
- 72% of those have made a one-off donation, while 41% donated the value of returned tickets
Over half of respondents have donated to cultural organisations since Covid hit. The majority of those did so by making a one-off donation, but 41% showed their support by donating the value of returned tickets.
The Culture Restart Audience & Visitor Tracker is the successor to Indigo Ltd’s After the Interval sentiment tracker. Developed by the Insights Alliance – Indigo Ltd, Baker Richards and One Further – the Tracker has been following sentiments and confidence of cultural audiences since October 2020. Reports have been released regularly, with Baker Richards providing analysis of the data and results shared in an interactive dashboard created by One Further.
This update reports on fieldwork from cultural organisations including theatres, arts centres and touring companies across the UK during since October 2020, and does not cover the West End. 75% of respondents usually attend culture four or more times per year. There have so far been nearly 50,000 responses from more than 70 participating cultural organisations.