Responses gathered by the Culture Restart Experience Survey during the two weeks following the further relaxation of restrictions (19 July – 1 August 2021) show that:
- Audience confidence increases by 22% after attending an event with higher levels of anxiety seen pre-visit among first time returners
- Audiences are very positive about the return to in-person live cultural events, with 83% saying there was a ‘great atmosphere’ and an average rating of 4.5 stars for the production or event
- Responses were split evenly between those who attended socially distanced events (50%) and full capacity events (48%) – those attending socially distanced events have higher levels of pre- and post-event confidence, and 87% of them said the visit made them more likely to come to another cultural event – but 39% would be uncomfortable returning to a full capacity event
- Half of respondents said a requirement for all audiences to wear face coverings would make them more likely to attend another event
- Majority are happy showing proof of vaccination or negative test and supplying details for Test and Trace
Attending events is building audience confidence
- 65% attending for the first time since March 2020
- 22% increase in audience confidence after attending an event
- 14% higher levels of pre-event anxiety among first time returners
For 65% of respondents, this was their first visit back to a cultural venue since March 2020.
The results show an increase of 22% in audience confidence through attending events – from 59% saying they felt ‘Brilliant’ or ‘Fairly happy’ before the event to 81% after attending – with both socially distanced and full capacity events building confidence.
There were higher levels of pre-event anxiety among those attending for the first time with 27% saying they felt slightly or very anxious before the event, compared to 13% of those who had previously returned. However, the first visit back builds post-event confidence to 79%, almost the same level as those who had returned previously (85%).
A very positive continued return to live performance
- 4.5 stars average rating for events
- 83% said there was a ‘great atmosphere’
Audiences are continuing to love the return to live performance, with an average rating of 4.5 stars for the production or event they attended, consistent across socially distanced and full capacity events.
More than 4 in 5 respondents (83%) said they agree or strongly agree that there was a ‘great atmosphere’. This was even higher for full capacity performances (88%) than socially distanced events (80%).
However, the overall Net Promotor Score (a -100 to +100 rating which measures likelihood to recommend the organisation to a friend or colleague) was higher for socially distanced attenders (+66) compared to full capacity (+58).
Feeling safe at the venue and likelihood to return
- 81% confidence that venues had appropriate measures to keep audiences safe
- 80% said the visit made them more likely to come to another cultural event
- 39% of socially distanced attenders uncomfortable returning to a full capacity event
4 in 5 respondents (81%) said that they felt confident that the venue had appropriate measures in places to keep them safe.
Those who attended socially distanced events were more likely to say they were ‘able to forget about safety and simply enjoy myself’ – 84% agreed with this statement compared to 64% of full capacity attenders. However, only 12% of those who attended full capacity events said they felt slightly or very anxious after attending.
80% of respondents said that this visit had made them more likely to come to other cultural events. However, of the socially distanced attenders, only 40% said they would feel comfortable returning to a similar event without socially distanced seating and 39% said they would not yet be comfortable doing that.
Appetite for safety measures remains – particularly face coverings
- 49% said masks being required would make them more likely to attend another event
- 59% less likely to attend if masks are not required
- Majority are happy showing proof of vaccination and supplying details for Test and Trace
When asked about how a series of safety measures would affect their likelihood of attending another event, half of respondents (49%) said masks being required throughout the venue would make them more likely or much more likely to attend. 1 in 5 (19%) said it would make them less likely or much less likely to attend.
59% said that they would be less likely to attend if masks were not required, and 55% less likely to attend if all restrictions were removed and the venue operation as it was pre-Covid.
50% said that requirement to show proof of vaccine, negative test or proof of anti-bodies would make them more likely to attend, and 12% said it would make them less likely.
Katy Raines, Co-Founder and Partner of Indigo Ltd, said:
“This latest data highlights the continued threshold anxiety being experienced by previously frequent cultural attenders, with higher levels of anxiety being seen ahead of the visit, particularly for first time returners. Once audiences have a positive experience at a cultural organisation with sensible and proportionate safety measures in place, a majority want to come back again. Therefore, reassuring audiences and encouraging them back by elevating the voices of those who have already returned will be key.”
Robin Cantrill-Fenwick, CEO of Baker Richards, said:
“There is evidence of a clear persistent market for socially distanced performances, and so where venues can offer patrons a choice – either by retaining some entirely socially distanced performances in a run, or operating parts of their auditoria in a socially distanced way – that is the approach most likely to attract the broadest audience profile in a way that builds confidence for future visits.”
The Culture Restart Experience Survey is a post-visit survey developed by the Insights Alliance – Indigo Ltd, Baker Richards and One Further. It is designed to assess the success of safety measures in place at cultural organisations, and gather instant feedback from audiences as venues reopen.
Since October 2020, the Insights Alliance have been following sentiments and confidence of cultural audiences through the Audience & Visitor Tracker, Digital Experience Survey and Experience Survey. This update builds on results gathered by surveys from cultural organisations including theatres, arts centres and touring companies across the UK during since October 2020 and does not cover the West End. There have been over 70,000 responses to Culture Restart Toolkit survey from more than 100 participating cultural organisations.
- Flo Carr
- Associate Director