Tomorrow's Audience: Your Questions Answered

A few weeks ago, we shared some headline findings from our recent Indigo Share: Hot Topic - Tomorrow’s Audience. It was a piece of research carried out in partnership with Spektrix and in association with a consortium of many of the UK’s leading arts organisations. Combining a deep dive into aggregated sector ticketing data, a UK-wide audience survey and a range of focus groups with new audiences, Tomorrow’s Audience explored the behaviours, motivations and attitudes of first-time bookers and first-time attenders to performing arts organisations.

Ahead of the impending publication of the full report, here are answers to some of the most burning questions from those who attended that webinar based on our survey and focus group findings.

A crowd with their backs to the camera, with yellow tones lights shining through.

Have you seen any variations in the insights depending on artform or region?

We looked at a range of variables when analysing the data and by far the biggest differentiator we saw between different new audiences was whether they were already arts-engaged or not. 

Regional variations

There were some variations between audiences living in London and living outside London:

  • London brand new audiences are more likely to see the arts as important in their lives than people living in the regions (68% important/very important vs 59%).
  • London audiences are more frequent attenders overall (17% at least once a month vs 7% in the regions), which may well be due to the significantly higher density of arts provision.
  • Regional attenders seem to be more driven by special occasions: 24% of regional new-to-the-arts audiences had attended the organisation surveying them for the first time as a treat for a special occasion, compared to 19% in London.
  • In terms of influence on purchase decisions, price is a bigger influence on Londoners than regional audiences (51% of Londoners said it played the biggest role in their decision vs 39% of regional audiences), whereas transport has a much bigger influence on regional attenders than Londoners (43% of regional new audiences said how easy it was to get there and back played a significant role in their decision-making, compared to 29% of Londoners - and for 9% of them it was the most significant factor).

Artform variations

Classical music and opera new attenders in the sample are more arts engaged and have a profile closer to the arts engaged audiences than to the brand new audiences; they are more likely to know what’s on, they attend more often and they  value the arts more.

Some other highlights were:

  • Drama audiences were the least likely to say the arts was very important to them (17% drama, 20% dance, 24% classical/opera)
  • Classical music/opera audiences are the most likely to return to the organisation of any artform audience (53% very likely to return in next 12 months vs 47% dance and 43% drama)
  • Special occasions particularly appear to drive dance attendance: 33% said they first attended this organisation for a special occasion, compared to 25% for classical music/opera and 21% for drama

Would new audiences benefit from any assisted performances or adaptations to the performance?

Although similar numbers of brand new audiences as arts-engaged audiences identified as D/deaf or D/disabled (10-12% in each group), a significantly larger proportion of new under 35s identifies as neurodivergent (17% vs 5% of all first-timers to the organisation). Similarly, new under 35s were more likely than all the groups to say they would benefit from a range of assisted performances, including captioning, relaxed performances, BSL interpretation and visual or sonic stories.  The most popular assisted option for all groups was captioning, with a third of all first-time visitors saying they would benefit, particularly those who were already arts engaged (44%) and under 35s brand new to the arts (34%).

From the research, was there anything you found new audiences particularly wanted from their experience?

We didn’t find much difference in the attitudes of audience types towards some of the experiential factors we tested, such as at-seat refreshment ordering or the freedom to leave and re-enter the auditorium freely, with both groups generally being more negative than positive towards these offers. The only differences were in the ability to take drinks or confectionery into the auditorium and the offer of different seating options such as standing, reclining or cabaret-style. For both of these, arts engaged audiences were on balance less likely to attend with these things in place where new-to-arts audiences said these would make them more likely to attend. 

Arts-engaged audiences visiting you for the first time were much more likely than those genuinely new-to-the-arts audiences to want all the wrap-around content we could offer, from reading and watching things about the show to meeting the cast. Having said this, half of brand new attenders would be interested in reading something before the show to understand more of what to expect, while Under 35 brand new audiences were actually the most likely group to want to socialise around the performance afterwards, both meeting the performers and discussing it over a post-show drink in the venue.

You talked about “ghost attenders”: first-time bookers who are not first-time attenders because someone else booked for them in the past. How can we try and capture more of that ghost booker data?

We are all wise to the use of our data these days, so whatever mechanism you try to use, think about what’s in it for them: how can you incentivise them to give you a bit of information about themselves. Can you offer a voucher or discount? Send them some exclusive information? Enable them to do something that will make their lives easier? 

The more relevant and compelling the offer, the more likely they will be to hand over their email address. From offline approaches like QR codes in the toilets promising a discount on sign up, to using peripheral tech like requiring sign in to use your WiFi or registering on your interval drinks app, organisations are using many creative ways to try and capture that missing audience data.

Tomorrow's Audience: Full report coming soon

For more detail on all these areas and other key findings, look out for our full report which is published soon. Ensure you receive it by signing up to our mailing list.

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