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85% of patrons look to return to arts and culture events, but not yet

85% of patrons look to return to arts and culture events, but not yet
May 18, 2020

85% of audiences plan to return to arts and cultural events in the future, with 78% planning to attend just as they did in the past and 7% even more often, according to a new research of how Australian audiences are looking beyond the Coronavirus pandemic.

However, only 22% of audiences are comfortable attending events as soon as restrictions are lifted with almost three quarters of Australians (67%) saying they will attend when they deem the risk of transmission to be minimal. 11% won’t be back until there is no risk at all.

The Audience Outlook Monitor research is being delivered in Australia in an unprecedented coming together of research agencies Patternmakers (Sydney) and WolfBrown (USA) in collaboration with six government agencies: the Australia Council for the Arts; Creative Victoria; Create NSW; Arts Queensland; Department of Premier and Cabinet (South Australia) and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (Western Australia).

Over 23,000 respondents from 159 organisations contributed to the aggregated results that are freely available in an accessible dashboard to assist artists and cultural organisations of all kinds in understanding how audiences feel about attending events again.

Baseline data was collected in May 2020 in a cross-sector collaborative survey involving museums, galleries, performing arts organisations and festivals, from the country’s largest companies to micro ones in regional Australia.

These organisations simultaneously sent a survey to a random sample of their audiences, who had attended a cultural event, such as a concert, exhibition, festival, author talk or art workshop since January 2018.

The results show that the pandemic will affect who comes back when, and the size of events and the type of interactions with which audiences feel comfortable. With respect to artistic content, the vast majority agree they will be most interested in the same kinds of events they used to attend (93%).

Commenting on the findings, Australia Council Chief Executive, Adrian Collette stated “creativity will be vital to our national recovery as we seek to bring life back into our cities and regions. This research provides valuable and promising insights into the future of the cultural and creative sector, while highlighting the initial challenges in encouraging audiences to return to live experiences.

It will be cultural experiences that will have people hitting the road for domestic tourism, and the shared experiences of live performances and public events that will draw us back into our urban and regional centres and their restaurants, bars and cafes. This will play a critical role in boosting consumer confidence overall.”

The Audience Outlook Monitor will collect data again in July and September, to track how audience sentiment changes as conditions change, and people are allowed to resume gathering in larger groups.

Tandi Palmer Williams, Managing Director of research agency Patternmakers adds “by capturing this level of detail about changing attitudes, we can provide artists and cultural organisations with timely information to plan ahead and make the best possible decisions about re-opening.”

For more information about the study, and to access the Snapshot Report, visit the Audience Outlook Monitor website at

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