Bendigo Art Gallery
Bendigo Art Gallery 

Creative Victoria is part of a global study to track audience sentiment in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The COVID-19 Outlook Monitor research is being conducted over three stages to understand how audiences feel about engaging with, and returning to, creative events and venues. The study also explores the measures that will make people feel more comfortable about returning.

This data can be used by artists and creative organisations to support their audience engagement activities and plans for returning to business and recovery.

Respondents to the study are previous attendees.

The COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor covers:

  • Current Demand for In-Person Arts Events
    • Are they purchasing tickets for future arts events?
    • Are audiences attending arts events or visiting arts spaces?
  • Future Demand for In-Person Arts Event
    • When do audiences think they will return?
    • Do they think they’ll attend just as frequently as they did before the pandemic?
    • Do they think they’ll spend as much money on arts experiences?
  • Conditions Under Which Audiences Will Feel Comfortable Returning
    • Will audiences return as soon as bans are lifted?
    • What can organisations do to make audiences feel more comfortable?
  • Philanthropic Impact of COVID-19
    • Do audiences anticipate giving to arts and culture changing after the crisis?
    • Have they already given in response to the crisis?
  • Demand for and Uptake of At-Home Engagement
    • How have audiences adapted to at-home participation?
    • Will heightened interest in virtual content extend beyond the current health crisis?
    • What are the revenue opportunities?
  • Context and Demographics
    • How does arts engagement behaviour, such as frequency of attending arts events, impact audiences' attitudes?
    • Has COVID-19 directly impacted the physical or financial health of audiences or their families?
    • How does the age and employment status of audience members impact their attitudes towards COVID-19?

Baseline data was collected in May 2020 and the second phase of data collection was undertaken in July 2020. A snapshot of the latest national findings is available below and a Victoria-specific report will be released soon.

The full results are available to explore in the freely accessible dashboard.

Key Findings – COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor: Phase 4, March 2021

3,573 Victorian participants revealed:

Live attendance in Victoria is growing as COVID-safe procedures help build audience attendance confidence

Victorian audiences are recording dramatic increases in attendance activity.

  • 62% of Victorians have recently attended a cultural venue or event, up from just 4% in September 2020 when the state was still in lockdown.
  • The majority of VIC audiences are now comfortable attending a range of venues such as museums and galleries (97%), large theatres (86%) and live music venues (54%).
  • 34% of Victorians remain cautious about attending events (compared to 26% of audiences nationally) with Victoria recording the lowest percentage of attendances nationally.
  • Over the next 12 months, VIC audiences expect to spend less on arts and culture tickets, admissions, subscriptions and memberships compared to expenditure prior to COVID 19.
  • 42% of VIC audiences spent more than $50 on tickets and 22% more than $100 in the fortnight prior to the March 2021 survey being undertaken.
  • September 2020 figures were more than $50 (20%) and more than $100 (7%).


  • VIC audiences are making plans and firm bookings close to the event date.  The greatest proportion of VIC audiences are purchasing tickets for the month ahead to avoid possible cancellations due to COVID - within 7 days (27%) or later in March (54%) and April (38%).
  • The top factor preventing VIC audiences from attending events was the risk of lockdowns and cancelled events (45%). This factor was consistently reported nationally as being the main deterrent.

Digital engagement

  • Victorian audiences continue to seek high quality digital experiences
  • 18% spent more than $100 and 17% between $50-$100 on digital content in the two weeks prior to data collection (compared to 15% and 22% in September 2020 respectively).
  • Nationally, VIC audiences are the most engaged audience online (51%) in March 2021 compared to (79%) in September 2020.
  • 39% of digital Vic audiences are paying to participate online.  Pay-per-view remains the most common form of digital consumption (20%).
  • Video content of performances and events remain the most popular form of digital participation with 22% watching a live stream (down from 47% in September 2020) and 27% watching pre-recorded content (down from 53% in September 2020).
  • Online courses and tutorials remain popular and have had a small audience increase to 25% participation but rate higher to the national average of 21%.
  • Online continues to offer a good alternative participation option where physical attendance is restricted.
  • On-demand content is appealing for audiences and many want to hear artists talking about their work.
  • Screen fatigue, following a day at work, is a key motivator for people seeking live attendance opportunities.  There may be opportunities to grow creative technologies that are more immersive (virtual reality) or audio experiences to limit the requirement for screen engagement.

Feeling safe to return?

  • VIC audiences reported lower comfort levels relative to other States and Territories across most venue types.
  • Capacity limits on attendance numbers for indoor events increased the audience’s perceptions of feeling safe and encouraged attendance.
  • 95% of audiences felt somewhat comfortable when seating capacity was restricted to 50% dropping to 35% being comfortable with 100% seating capacity.
  • Mandatory mask wearing by audiences increased audience attendance confidence from 78% to 85% at events with 75% seating capacity and from 35% to 56% at 100% seating capacity.
  • Clear communication from venues in relation to COVID protocols and guidelines for audience are valued by audiences and improve confidence and decision making.
  • Information about check-in procedures, contract tracing, social distancing requirements and disinfection of public spaces is key.
  • 89% of VIC audiences feel confident that the vaccination effort will lead to the resumption of normal activities within 12 months and 72% say that long-term they plan to resume normal pre COVID attendance behaviors.

Key Findings – COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor: Phase 3, September 2020

3,940 Victorian participants revealed:

Victorian audiences remain cautious, but confidence is growing as people look forward to reduced restrictions.

  • 24% of past attendees are ready to attend cultural events as soon as permitted – an increase from the levels observed in May 2020 (19%) and July (20%).

Victorian audiences are more comfortable attending large venues following social distancing guidelines.

  • There has been a slight increase since July 2020 in the proportion of Victorian audiences at least somewhat comfortable to attend outdoor events (75%, up from 65%), including street markets (78%, up from 64%), performances in outdoor amphitheatres (75%, up from 65%) and outdoor music festivals (47%, up from 36%).
  • In September 2020, 88% of Victorian audiences would be at least somewhat comfortable to attend venues with 4 square metres per person enforced. This drops to 59% under a scenario of 2 square metres per person, and just 9% with no social distancing at all.

Victorian audiences are strongly supportive of safety measures.

  • 88% of Victorians are supportive of the use of face masks when attending cultural events (up from 62% in May 2020).
  • 74% of Victorians also support temperature checking upon entry to venues (up from 66% in May 2020).

Victorian audiences favour outdoor events and digital streaming.

  • Victorian audiences continue to show strong support for livestreamed digital programs that can be watched at home.
  • After considering all preferences, outdoor venues now have the highest level of support among Victorian audiences.

Victorian audiences remain the most highly engaged online.

  • 59% of Victorians report that they are participating in online arts and cultural activities more frequently than before the pandemic.
  • 47% of Victorians have watched livestreamed performances, while 53% have watched pre-recorded performances.
  • 44% of Victorians have paid for an online experience compared with 36% in May 2020.
    • Spending for online experiences has also increased with 37% having spent more than $50 in the past fortnight.

Key Findings – COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor: Phase 2, July 2020

3,846 Victorian participants revealed:

A cautious approach

  • Victorian audiences are demonstrating strong levels of caution in engaging in public activities compared to other states.
    • o 20% of Victorians are ready to return to cultural events. (64% will return “When reasonably confident that the risk of transmission is minimal”.)
    • o 23% of Victorians expect to attend less cultural events than before in the long term.


  • Future spending is looking positive among Victorians, with 74% saying they will spend the same amount once they can resume attending cultural events. AND a greater proportion (14%) than the national average say that they anticipate their spending will be higher than before the pandemic.

Digital engagement

  • Victorians are engaging online (77%) – higher than the national rate of 73%. And report that they will continue to do so after the pandemic (72%, up from 68% in May).
  • 52% of Victorians selected digital programs as their first preference for attending a cultural event.
  • Victorians are the most highly engaged in watching livestreamed performances and events (45% compared with 41% nationally).
  • Online discovery of new artists and work has increased since May 2020 (39%, up from 32%).
  • 39% of Victorian audiences have paid for a cultural experience online in the past fortnight.

Feeling safe to return?

  • Victorian respondents highlighted effective hygiene protocols as a critical factor in helping them feel safe at venues and events.
  • Social distancing enforced by timed entry and venue capacity has enabled attendees to feel more comfortable during their recent experience.
  • 52% of Victorians selected digital programs as their first preference for attending a cultural event.
    • 45% selected outdoor venues with space to sit apart from others as their second preference.

Engagement at home

  • Victorians continue engaging in creative activities in the home with the majority still listening to music (90%), reading for pleasure (84%) and making art or craft (44%).

View the accessible version of Phase 1 of the Victoria snapshot DOCX, 88.5 KB.

Key Findings – COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor: Phase 1, May 2020

More than 23,000 people participated in phase one of the study.

View the accessible version of the Victoria Snapshot DOCX, 53.7 KB

The research suggests audiences will eventually return to arts and culture events (85%) but most aren’t ready yet. 78% plan to attend just as they did before COVID-19, while 7% are planning to attend more than before.

However, in the short-term, the pandemic will affect how soon people will attend arts and culture events along with the size and type of events people are comfortable attending.

Upon reopening venue safety measures will be critical, with 96% saying their decision to attend will be influenced by the measures put in place.

Access the results dashboard

The survey data is aggregated in a freely available dashboard, to assist artists and cultural organisations with their decision making and forward planning.

Access the dashboard by following the link below and entering the login details provided. For guidance on how to use the dashboard, visit the Australian homepage for the dashboard, where you can watch a tour or download a guide.



Password: Australia

Or alternatively access a national snapshot report here.

Victoria specific analysis will be released soon.

Future updates

There will be a third stage of the survey with results to be released in September 2020.

When combined, all three research updates will illustrate the evolving audience attitudes to arts events through the coronavirus emergency and early recovery.

Research methodology

Respondents were people who had engaged with an arts event in the last two years.

Baseline data was collected in a cross-sector collaborative survey process involving 159 arts and culture organisations, including museums, galleries, performing arts organisations and festivals across Australia.

These organisations simultaneously sent a survey to a random sample of audience members who had attended a cultural event since January 2018. Read more about the methodology and the types of events that are included.

No individual respondents or organisations are identified.

Study partners

Creative Victoria is working with audience research specialists WolfBrown and Patternmakers to undertake COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor, along with industry partners including the Australia Council for the Arts, Create NSW, and Arts Queensland.

WolfBrown is also conducting this study in Norway and U.S. cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and the San Francisco Bay Area.