Phase 6, November 2021

Victorian audiences are cautiously optimistic with the majority (93%) confident the vaccine effort will enable a return to normal within a year, up from 84% in July 2021.

COVID safety measures remain important and will play a pivotal role in rebuilding attendances, especially at indoor venues.

For Victorian audiences the risk of future lockdowns and cancellations is the primary barrier to attendance, impacting 55% of respondents (up from 45% in March).

Audience behaviours

The majority of VIC audiences are making short-to-mid-term plans, with the majority of tickets booked for events later this month (38%), December 2021 (46%), January (24%), February (25%) and March 2022 (30%).

· 95% of Victorian arts audiences were fully vaccinated in November at the time of the data collection.

· COVID-safety such as check-in and proof of vaccination at entry is critical in maintaining attendee confidence.

· 8 in 10 Vic audiences won’t attend indoor venues unless proof of vaccination is required at entry.

· Across the board, this COVID-normal scenario saw significant increases in the proportion of VIC audiences ‘very comfortable’ at arts venues.

· The majority of VIC audiences feel very comfortable at outdoor events with fixed seating (71%), museums and galleries (62%) and large theatres and concert halls (52%) – but proof of vaccination is important.

· By contrast, only 25% of Vic audiences are very comfortable using public transport or exercising in a gym, with 37% very comfortable attending a sporting event. 52% are comfortable eating at a local restaurant or bar.

Thought starters for organisations and events

· 81% of VIC audiences agree that they’ll be attracted to events in their local area over the next year with ‘local loyalty’ being both a response to pandemic hardship and a way to alleviate risk.

· VIC audiences see an ongoing role for digital arts experiences in their lives (76%) compared to July 2021 (56%). Digital engagement increased from 47% in July 2021 to 52% in November 2021 and plays a role in keeping audiences engaged as uncertainty continues.

· Digital spending has increased slightly with 36% paying for online content in the fortnight prior to data collection.

· The outlook for loyalty programs is positive, with 4 in 10 (39%) indicating they are at least somewhat likely to purchase a subscription or membership in 2022.

· Almost half of Vic audiences say they prefer ‘light hearted programs’ (47%) that are uplifting and are not yet ready for works that explore the pandemic.

Audience behaviours

  • Booking lead times have polarised, with people either:
    • booking late: 30% of audiences were booking for events in the next seven days (up from 27% in March), or
    • booking well in advance: bookings are up for “the month after next” (30%, up from 20% in March), “three months from now” (23%, up from 16%) and “four months from now” (19%, up from 7%).
  • 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%).
  • A high percentage of VIC audiences are being vaccinated and the majority (85%) believe vaccination will enable normal activities to resume within 12 months.

Thought starters for organisations and events

  • Victorian audiences are happy to reschedule or rebook events, but want ticketing policies to be clearly communicated in advance.
  • Victorian audiences want to be informed in advance of COVID-safe policies – and want to see them in practice.
  • Improvements to ventilation systems (85%) and the presence of check-in procedures (85%) are the safety measures that would most encourage VIC audiences to attend.
  • There is appetite for quality digital content – more VIC online audiences spent over $50 on online content in July (41% up from 35% in March).
  • VIC audiences want to see a return to pre-pandemic content, but some will favour light-hearted experiences (37%, up from 21% in May 2020) and less attracted to ‘works that make sense of the pandemic’ (9%, down from 25% in May 2020.

Bendigo Art Gallery

Bendigo Art Gallery

What is the COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor?

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

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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

Other resources

Future updates

There will be a sixth stage of the survey with results to be released in December 2021.

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 in the initial study, including museums, galleries, performing arts organisations and festivals across Australia. Approximately 120 organisations have participated in the 2021 studies.

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.