This snapshot report updates key findings using the June 2021 deployments of the Audience Outlook Monitor (AOM) 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.
The study includes analysis of shifting demand for live events and comfort in venues, perspectives on vaccination, vaccination policies, resuming attendance, and experience with digital content.
This report reflects data collected by all participants in the AOM study, as indicated in the following pages.
would attend an outdoor cultural event this week under any circumstances
purchased single tickets for live music events in mid-June
are currently attending in-person programs
have confidence in the vaccine’s ability to protect them from the virus
say they would be encouraged to attend by vaccinated-only admittance policies
say that online programs will play a significant role in their cultural life once facilities reopen
Performing Arts Centers and Producers
To maintain relevance in our longitudinal effort, AMS and Wolfbrown have periodically updated topics and specific questions which comprise the survey protocol. The most recent iteration of this protocol includes new questions related to comfort attending indoors and outdoors, and venue health and safety policy and its implications; therefore, time series data is not available for these questions. As the study continues, we expect to observe trends in the data along these lines of inquiry and provide more detail on changes over time.
As vaccination reaches near full penetration among arts audiences, comfort levels and subsequent demand continue to grow. For the time being, patrons still feel most comfortable in outdoor venues like zoos, botanical gardens, and outdoor festival grounds, but are buying tickets and memberships at higher and higher rates.
Meanwhile, though patrons are confident in the personal protection provided by vaccination, a majority support vaccinated-only admittance policies. Looking to the future, though the preference for live entertainment still resounds, an increased percentage of audiences see digital content playing a small part in their cultural life.
GO TO A SHOW
The purchase of live music and theater tickets, as well as subscriptions, has grown through the spring season into mid-June. Up from 12% in late April, 20% of respondents have purchased single music tickets for live events in the past two weeks. Also, up from only 8% in late April, 17% have purchased live theater or dance tickets. Subscription sales have increased modestly to 11% in mid-June, up from only 6% in April.
Those who indicate strong bond with their organization are more likely to make purchases. 52% of those possessing a strong bond with their organization have purchased a ticket, admission, and/or subscription in the past two weeks, versus only 34% with a weak bond.
Also, older respondents are more likely to purchase subscriptions and memberships. 15% of respondents over age 65 have purchased a subscription and/or a membership in the past two weeks, versus less than 9% of all younger respondents.
While attendance continues to grow, outdoor spaces remain the safest options in the minds of arts patrons. As of mid-June, 80% of respondents report they are very comfortable walking around a botanical garden or zoo, and 63% are very comfortable at an outdoor festival or concert or a museum/gallery.
Two thirds of respondents indicate that they would attend outdoor events this week under any health safety circumstances, while 42% would attend indoors no matter the circumstances.
Older respondents remain more hesitant. Compared to 79% of respondents under age 35, only 58% of those over age 65 indicate that they would attend outdoor events under any circumstances.
The Midwest is the most confident region in returning immediately. Nearly eight in ten Midwestern respondents would attend outdoor events, and five in ten would attend indoors, given any circumstances.
Audiences expect September 2021 to be the ‘comeback’ month
While a combined 61% of respondents expect to attend prior to September, this includes a growing number who are already attending: nearly one third of respondents indicate that they are already attending in-person programs, as of mid-June.
This attendance is driven by younger audiences; 42% of respondents under age 35 are already attending, while the same is true of only 20% over age 65.
Long-term, future attendance projections continue to hold steady, with 92% of respondents expecting to attend at least as much or more than before the pandemic.
With 93% of patrons now fully vaccinated, venue activity and attendance is increasing rapidly and vaccinated patrons are venturing out. 86% of vaccinated respondents have confidence in the vaccine’s ability to protect them from the virus, enabling normal activities now that they are vaccinated.
In light of these high levels of confidence in the vaccine, 64% of respondents say they are ready to attend cultural events now. Meanwhile, 28% still say that they will wait for infection rates to drop before attending.
Though confidence in the vaccine’s effectiveness is high overall, 73% say they are somewhat or very concerned about the duration of immunity provided by the vaccine, and 63% remain concerned about gathering in large numbers.
Arts patrons are confident in the effectiveness of their personal vaccination, but two thirds want to know that other attendees are also vaccinated. 66% of respondents say they would be more likely to attend or would only attend given vaccinated-only admittance policies. This is particularly true for respondents in the Northeast, 75% of whom would be more motivated to attend given vaccinated-only policies (including 11% who would only attend given this policy).
13% of all respondents would be less likely to attend, or would not attend at all, if these policies were employed at their local arts organization. % also say they would perceive their local arts organization more negatively should the venue employ vaccinated-only admittance for any programming.
More than a third of respondents did not indicate any prerequisites for attendance, but those who did, cite indoor mask requirements (34%) and proof of vaccination (32%) as prerequisites for attending in-person events. Conversely, common ‘deal breakers’ which would deter attendance include mask requirements at outdoor events (17%), collecting information for contact tracing (16%), and providing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test (14%).
While the level of interest in online programs has held steady through the spring, mid-June results reflect a notable jump in interest in online programing. Those who indicate that digital programs might play a small role in the future have increased markedly, from 44% through the spring, to 52% as of mid-June.
Projected engagement with digital content also corresponds with both organizational bond and age. As of mid-June, 18% of respondents who report a strong bond with their organization anticipate digital programming will play a substantial role in their future cultural consumption, whereas only 10% of weakly bonded individuals say the same. Also, 18% of respondents over age 65 anticipate substantial engagement with digital content, versus only 8% under age 35.