This snapshot report updates key findings using the February 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 and 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 in-person cultural event this week, given health safety protocols
purchased single tickets for live music events in late April
plan to attend as much or more than before the pandemic
have been fully vaccinated
of vaccinated patrons say they are still waiting for infection rates to drop before they attend in person
say that online programs will play a small role or no role in their cultural life once facilities reopen
Performing Arts Centers and Producers
Significant pent-up demand and increasing comfort are meeting more cultural offerings and resulting in ticket sales. About two-thirds of respondents feel comfortable attending cultural events immediately, and respondents are increasingly sharing their strong craving for live events in their open-ended remarks.
Though vaccination rates have skyrocketed in the last months, nearly four in ten vaccinated patrons are waiting for infection rates to drop before they attend. Meanwhile, overall long-term interest in digital offerings remains low. For the few who are highly interested in digital content once venues are open, the highest demand exists for access to digital staged performances and interactive offerings like education and artist talkbacks.
Increased cultural offerings are meeting pent-up demand and growing comfort, resulting in boosted sales and return to live events. Two thirds of respondents say that they would attend an in-person cultural event this week, assuming health safety protocols are in place. This is up from only half of respondents who said the same in mid-March. Comfort with immediate attendance has increased steadily through winter into spring of 2021.
Elderly respondents remain more reticent about attending immediately. Only 63% of respondents over age 65 indicated that they would attend in-person cultural events immediately (assuming health safety protocols were in place), while greater than 70% of all younger respondent groups would attend immediately.
Growth has also been observed in recent purchase of cultural tickets , with the most notable growth observed in the purchase of live music single tickets. 12% of respondents purchased live music single tickets in late April, versus on 6% in mid-March.
Projected future attendance remains strong, with 92% of respondents indicating they plan to attend the same amount or more than before the pandemic.
Open-ended comments offered by those indicating more frequent future attendance are dominated by a sentimental yearning for the arts, and a desire to support artists:
That said, a greater percentage of older respondents remain hesitant to commit to the same or greater attendance in the future. 10% of those over age 65 say they will attend less than before the pandemic.
Vaccination rates continue to climb rapidly, with 81% of respondents indicating that they are fully vaccinated, and 10% partially vaccinated, as of late April.
Half of vaccinated respondents are now ready to go out immediately, up from only 32% in mid-March. A lingering 38% say they are still waiting for infection rates to drop before they attend in person, despite being vaccinated themselves.
Older populations have been vaccinated at the highest rate (95% over age 65 are now fully vaccinated), but 43% of this older cohort is still not comfortable going out until infection rates are generally low.
BIPOC respondents have also been vaccinated at a slightly lower rate than White respondents and remain more hesitant about returning to live events post-vaccination. 43% of vaccinated Black or African American respondents are ready to go out now, versus 50% of White respondents.
Only 9% of respondents still indicate that digital will play a substantial role in their cultural life once venues are open. Older populations and BIPOC respondents seem slightly more inclined to view digital as a significant part of their cultural life once live gatherings are available widely. 13% of Black or African Americans, 13% of Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 12% of Hispanic and/or Latinx respondents believe that their digital consumption will be substantial, versus only 9% of White respondents who indicate the same.
While interest and engagement in digital content remains limited across the board, those for whom digital content will play a role once venues are fully open indicate the importance of digital access to music and dance concerts, theatrical productions and interactive, education content, lectures, post-performance discussions and artist talkbacks.