Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Aus Co Audience Outlook Monitor Apr-2023

Karina Utomo performs in the 2019 Perth Festival production of Cat Hope’s Speechless, produced by Tura New Music. Credit: Toni Wilkinson.

COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor, Australia Council of the Arts, April 2023

Webinar: How rising inflation is impacting audiences

Join Tandi Palmer Williams, Managing Director – Patternmakers, and Ella Huisman, Executive Director, Audience – Adelaide Fringe, to discuss the main findings and results from the April 2023 phase of Audience Outlook Monitor data collection.

Wednesday 17 May
12-12.45 pm AEST
To register click here

We are again working with Patternmakers and WolfBrown in 2023 to understand changes in the behaviours and sentiments of arts-goers.

Since 2020, the Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study has provided the arts and cultural sector with crucial insights regarding behaviours and sentiments of arts audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study continues to bring timely and essential data on audience sentiment and trends to support planning and decision-making for arts and creative organisations.

Results from the April 2023 phase of data collection are now available, and key insights are outlined in a new snapshot report. The data suggests that audiences are enjoying the buzz of more arts and cultural events. Returning to cultural events has enabled recent attendees to feel connected, inspired and enriched.

However, economic uncertainty is taking root in the post-pandemic context, with the heightened cost-of-living pressures impacting consumer confidence around the country. Other factors, such as shifting priorities and energy levels, continue to impact one-quarter (24%) of audiences.

All data is available in the Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard, with results from over 95,150 responses across phases 1–8, the ‘Pulse Check’ 2022 and the ‘Pulse Check’ 2023.

Key findings from the April 2023 phase include:

  • Nationally, audiences in all age groups are citing financial barriers, with certain audience segments being more negatively affected than others. Rising housing costs are affecting families more than households without children (61%)Young audiences are attending at slightly lower rates than other adults right now (67% vs 76%). Audiences over 55 are the most likely age group to experience no barriers to attending right now (27%). 
  • Most audiences continue to attend events amid cost–of–living pressures, but the profile of those attending and their attendance preferences are changing.In April 2023, three-quarters of past attendees (76%) attended a cultural activity, which is consistent with October 2022 and August 2022Older audiences (those aged 55+) are the most likely to be attending right now (78%). Younger audiences (those under 35) are least likely to have attended a cultural activity recently (67%) – a notable decline since October 2022 (77%). 
  • Half of audiences indicate that both the price they are willing to pay to attend and their frequency of attendance has decreased. Price sensitivities are affecting 6 in 10 (59%) of those attending, down slightly from August (63%) and October 2022 (63%). Around half are looking for ‘free and cheap’ things to attend (54%) and discounts and pricing offers are factoring into a high number of decisions, particularly among families and young people. 
  • Audiences from various socioeconomic backgrounds are both ‘saving’ and ‘splurging’ on cultural activities. A significant portion of audiences earning $650-$999 per week (27%), as well as those earning $3,000+ (29%), agree that they have found things to ‘splurge’ on in the past 6 months, given their financial situation.Similarly, audiences in all categories are looking for ‘free/cheap things to do’ – a sign that there is a universal demand for affordable arts experiences. 
  • Other factors such as shifting priorities and energy levels are impacting attendance. A quarter (24%) of respondents are prioritising other things in their life right now, consistent with findings in October 2022 (24%). However, the long-term effects of the pandemic continue to affect some audiences’ stamina for attending. Around 2 in 10 (18%) say they lack the energy to go out, consistent with October 2022 (19%).  
  • Uplifting content has been identified as attractive to audiences over the coming year – while last-minute ticket buying is likely to remain a trend. In April 2023, 95% of audiences are most interested in attending fun, uplifting performances in the coming year – and 85% want to try new things they haven’t experienced before. One quarter (26%) of audience members suggested they would be likely to book events within the next seven days; over two-fifths of audience participants would be likely to book events in the next 2-3 weeks (43%). 
Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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