Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Rebuilding Regional Audience Outlook Monitor

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 2021, Australia Council for the Arts, November 2021

Audience Outlook Monitor Webinar
Rebuilding regional audiences

Watch as Tandi Palmer Williams, Managing Director Patternmakers and Scott Howie, General Manager of Regional Arts Australia discuss the Audience Outlook Monitor data on regional audiences and their engagement with the arts and culture throughout the pandemic.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the Audience Outlook Monitor continues to track changes in behaviours and sentiments of arts-goers during the COVID-19 pandemic to support decision-making and forward planning across the arts sector.


As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the Australia Council is working with Patternmakers and WolfBrown again in 2021 to understand changes in behaviours and sentiments of arts-goers in the wake of the pandemic.

Restrictions on public gatherings and travel forced many in the arts community to shut their doors and cancel programs and activities. Throughout 2020, the Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study provided the arts and cultural sector with crucial insights to inform planning and decision-making.

Now, as doors are reopening and programming resuming, the Audience Outlook Monitor will continue to provide valuable information with three more phases in 2021. Amid the ongoing disruption of the pandemic, we will continue to track audience sentiments and behaviours as changes occur.

Results from the July 2021 phase (Phase 5) of the study are now available, with the key insights outlined in a new Snapshot report.

All data is available in the Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard, with results from over 63,000 respondents across Phases 1–5.

Key findings from July 2021 include:

  • The July 2021 results of the Audience Outlook Monitor indicate a setback in audience attendance, as lockdowns and restrictions affect events around the country at the time of data collection (7–11 July 2021). This trend is present nationwide, even for audiences in areas that have not experienced significant outbreaks.
  • Nationally, slightly more than half (53%) of past attendees had recently attended an event (down from 71% in March), and three-quarters (76%) of audiences say their plans have been affected by lockdowns/restrictions in the past four months.
  • Around half (52%) now say the risk of future lockdowns and cancellations is inhibiting their attendance, while 38% are concerned about virus transmission.
  • However, audiences remain committed to engaging with culture and 86% are confident that the vaccination roll-out will be successful in helping things return to normal within 12 months.
  • Despite the recent lockdowns, a majority of audiences continue to make future plans to attend events (74%), though with a longer lead time.
  • Looking ahead to the next 12 months, most audiences say they expect their overall spending on arts and cultural activities to be the same amount or more than pre-pandemic levels.
  • Over four in ten (44%) audience members continue to participate in arts and culture online and 52% see a role for digital experiences in their lives long-term.

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.

Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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