Snapshot Report
PAC National Cohort, Wave 1
June 2020
The Audience Outlook Monitor is a joint project between AMS Analytics and WolfBrown
About this study

This snapshot report outlines key findings from Wave 1 of the Audience Outlook Monitor in the United States, a study that is tracking how audiences feel about attending arts and culture events in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overview of results
Are at least somewhat eager to return to their Centers
Plan to attend as much or more than they did before the pandemic
Will resume attendance as soon as restrictions are lifted
Anticipate spending for subscriptions or tickets will be the same as before the health crisis began
Would be ‘encouraged’ to attend by the presence of venue safety measures
Will attend if required to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing
Survey responses
Participating Performing Arts Centers
Total responses
Audience sentiment toward attending cultural activities
89% of respondents do plan to resume attending arts and cultural events, but only under a variety of conditions related to the status of COVID-19.
Most respondents ultimately plan to return to arts and culture events, but their attendance is predicated on specific conditions being met, whether that means that the rate of new infections has dropped to near zero, testing and treatment are broadly available, or respondents have been vaccinated personally. Meanwhile, one in five plan to return as soon as legally allowed.
94% of respondents did not have firm plans to visit cultural venues (museums, galleries, theaters, fairs/festivals, lectures or public parks) in the two weeks prior completing the survey.
Overall, audiences are looking forward to returning to more normalized levels of cultural and social activity but are not yet comfortable being in settings which call for large gatherings. Four in five respondents say they are not yet prepared to attend cultural venues today.
What venues make audiences feel most comfortable
Respondent comfort with theatres inversely correlates to venue capacity
More than half of respondents would be at least somewhat comfortable currently at outdoor concerts, in community art spaces, or in museums and galleries, if they were open and following social distancing guidelines.
Spaces where social distance can more easily be maintained correlate with increased comfort levels. Over half of respondents express that they would be comfortable at an outdoor event or in a smaller community art space, and nearly three in four would be comfortable in a museum or gallery.
How audiences are supporting Centers during COVID-19
75% of respondents anticipate their overall spending for subscriptions or tickets will be the same as before the health crisis began.
Three out of four respondents claim to be at least moderately committed to ensuring that the organization they patronize emerges from the health crisis as strong as before. Most respondents anticipate that their level of patronage will be the same as pre-COVID, once they feel safe to emerge.
62% are at least somewhat likely to be willing to pay higher ticket prices temporarily.

84% of respondents are at least somewhat eager to return to their Centers; 43% are very eager to return.
On average, 65% of respondents said they would return to their cultural institutions in January 2021, if given the option. 
How Centers are communicating with their patrons, and what Centers can do to support audience needs
78% of respondents believe their center has done a good or excellent job of staying in touch with patrons.
86% of respondents indicate that the frequency of communication from their Center has been about right.
83% of respondents agree or strongly agree that they will be most interested in the same kinds of performances as they were before COVID-19.
Content preferences are unlikely to change due to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Fewer than one in ten are interested in seeing works that help to make sense of the pandemic.
Only 13% of respondents have consumed digital broadcasts or content offered or recommended by their Center since the health crisis began.
Only one in twenty have engaged digital content more than once, and one in five are not aware of digital content being offered by their Center. By way of exception, a greater percentage of New Yorkers are engaging in digital content than residents of any other state.
The impact of health practices being employed to protect patrons
Nine in ten respondents would be at least somewhat encouraged to attend by the disinfecting of public areas daily and provision of hand sanitizer.
58% of respondents will attend if required to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing, while 31% may attend.
Those who may not or would not attend if required to wear a mask indicate that the mask would be uncomfortable and intrusive to their experience; they would prefer to wait until it is safe enough for masks to not be required.
A deeper dive – how results differ by region
Residents of select midwestern, southern, and western states are generally more comfortable with attending both social and cultural events as soon as they are legally allowed and have been making firm plans to attend events when possible over the last month.
Residents of Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas tend to express higher levels of comfort with social activities, and have engaged in these activities at a higher rate in the past month (particularly dining out). Residents of South Carolina and Nevada would be notably more comfortable attending venues currently, regardless of capacity. Audiences in Nevada and Colorado may return earlier than others, with a notably higher percentage indicating interest in returning in September 2020.

In contrast, residents of eastern seaboard states including New Hampshire, Maryland and Florida do not foresee going out until the risk is reduced to zero. Those in New York and Washington DC more often responded that they are ‘very eager’ to return to cultural organizations, and are also most likely to be interested in pandemic-related content at their centers looking forward.

Giving to organizations also varies by region: while four in five nationwide anticipate donating similar amounts as they have in the past 12 months, New Yorkers are much more likely than residents of any other state to donate the value of their unused tickets.