Easing restrictions? Our latest audience sentiment data

Close up of a lightbulb.

With the announcement that further easing of restrictions will happen in England this month, we know that cultural organisations are planning to react in different ways.

Some organisations will drop restrictions as soon as possible whilst others are planning to continue with some safety measures and restrictions beyond the point that they are mandated - for example by continuing with socially distanced seating and encouraging the wearing of face masks. Others are considering a hybrid model, with certain performances operating 'as normal' and others still taking place with restrictions in place. 

Over the last few weeks, many cultural organisations have been in touch to ask us how audiences are feeling at the moment about returning to venues with different levels of restriction in place.

We've pulled together the key stats for organisations to consider when planning how best to react to changing restrictions.

Face coverings

Key data: 22% of previously frequent cultural attenders say all audiences wearing face masks remains ‘essential’ for their return. 57% are ‘OK’ with them, whilst only 20% of previously regular cultural attenders say they are 'uncomfortable' with them.
- Culture Restart Audience Tracker, June 2021

We can see that a significant proportion of audience members (over 1 in 5) still want to see the wearing of face coverings being enforced in indoor spaces and may be put off attending if they were not.

In addition to the 20% who are 'uncomfortable' wearing face coverings, in the comments we’ve read we know that many audience members who are happy to wear masks around the venue would prefer not to wear face coverings during the performance.

However, this has so far only been tracked in socially distanced seating situations. It is therefore difficult to know how people would feel about masks being removed completely in a full auditorium – we suspect a lot of hesitancy around this initially.

Socially distanced seating

Key data: For 1/3 of audiences (32%), socially distanced seating is essential to their return - only 5% are not comfortable with it.
- Culture Restart Audience Tracker, June 2021

Amongst previously regular cultural attenders, there is a real hesitancy about the dropping of socially distanced seating. It is difficult to imagine that audience members would feel comfortable dropping all social distancing, particularly if the wearing of masks is not required either.

Managing audiences in the venue

Key data: 22% want to see systems in place to manage the flow of people around venues (e.g. one way systems), only 4% are uncomfortable with this.
- Culture Restart Audience Tracker, June 2021

Confidence in the ability of cultural venues to keep audiences safe is high. Even when the requirements for socially distanced seating and the wearing face coverings have been relaxed, responses to our Tracker suggest audience compliance with measures such as one way systems and staggered entry times would remain high and be an effective way to reassure audiences.

Keep talking to audiences

Most of all, we encourage you to keep talking to your audiences and monitoring their responses. Different models will suit different organisations and audiences and our Culture Restart Toolkit is available to help you work out what's best for your audiences.

Our Experience Surveys are available FREE for all organisations - find out what audience members who are already returning thought of the experience and see their results in real time.

We'll be adding additional questions soon to help test different options for easing restrictions.

Useful links - latest reports

Culture Restart Experience Surveys (May/June 2021) - results from the first month of post-visit surveys from venues who opened from 17 May 2021

Culture Restart Audience Tracker (May 2021) - our latest full report on data from our Audience Tracker

Five Reassurances Resource- the key areas of reassurance audiences need

Flo Carr
Associate Director

Let's talk

Whether you’ve got a specific issue you’d like our help with, or just want to find out how we might help your organisation, get in touch on info@indigo-ltd.com for an informal chat. You can also sign up to our mailing list.