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AusCo Audience Outlook Monitor March 2022

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 2022, Australia Council for the Arts, 4 March 2022

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the Australia Council is working with Patternmakers and WolfBrown again in 2022 to understand changes in behaviours and sentiments of arts-goers in the wake of the pandemic.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study provided the arts and cultural sector with crucial insights to inform planning and decision-making. The Audience Outlook Monitor will continue to provide valuable insight throughout 2022 as the pandemic enters a new phase.

Results from the March 2022 phase (Phase 7) of the study are now available, with the key insights outlined in a new Snapshot Report.

Data suggests that attendance levels are increasing again, as we move past the January 2022 peak of the Omicron variant. However, half of audiences remain concerned about risks and maintaining COVID-safety measures remain critical.

Findings also highlight that the arts continue to be perceived as vital to community recovery, providing an avenue for healing, joy and social connection during dark times. While some are yet to return, they are firm in wanting to support artists and help cultural activity to flourish in new ways.

All data is available in the Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard, with results from over 87,000 respondents across Phases 1–7.

Key findings for March 2022 include:

  • Nationally, 7 in 10 (70%) audiences members are attending in-person events right now, compared to November 2021 where 29% (Delta-outbreak affected states) and 74% (rest of the country) were attending. Nationally, the March 2022 figure is the highest level seen since March 2021 (71%) prior to 2021 Delta outbreaks in the eastern states.
  • Arts audiences are reporting the highest spending levels since the pandemic started – a positive sign for economic recovery. 63% spending more than $50 and 38% spending more than $100 on tickets to arts and cultural events.
  • Nationally, 6 in 10 (59%) of audiences overall say they are ready to attend cultural events, while 4 in 10 have some level of risk-aversion. Across the country, readiness to attend appears to be converging around the national average with the exception of WA, where confidence levels have declined in light of rising cases.
  • Audiences are optimistic about attending in 2022, with 4 in 5 (79%) making firm plans to attend an in-person cultural event (up from 74% in November 2021).  However, 70% of those making plans are still staying local. Local events are perceived to be less risky by audiences and are seen as a way to support their communities.
  • Most of those attending are satisfied overall with COVID-safety measures applied at recent cultural events they attended (79% satisfied). Despite no longer being mandatory in many states and territories, vaccination requirements (71%) and masks for attendees aged 12+ (65%) continue to encourage the majority of audience members.
  • Uplifting content will attract audiences over the next year – while many are eager to return to the things they love. Looking ahead over the next 12 months, audiences are most interested in engaging with the same kinds of cultural activities they used to attend, pre-pandemic (90%).

About the study

The Audience Outlook Monitor captures ‘active’ arts audiences – those who are on the contact database of at least one of the participating organisations and have attended a cultural event since January 2018 – rather than the general population. The results will be most relevant for activities that rely on people being in public spaces, similar to those of the participating museums, galleries, festivals and organisations.

Baseline data for this tracking study was collected in a cross-sector collaborative survey process involving arts and culture organisations, including museums, galleries, performing arts organisations and festivals. These organisations simultaneously sent a survey to a random sample of their audiences, who had attended a cultural event since January 2018.

The responses span a diverse range of event types and encompass people who attend all types of events. The large sample provides detailed insights about different art forms, types of events, demographic groups and parts of Australia.

Read more about the methodology and the types of events which are included.