War-Rak/Banksia Festival for La Mama's Reopening. Darren Gill

What is the 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 Audience Outlook Monitor research is being conducted in stages to understand how audiences feel about engaging with, and returning to, creative events and venues.

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 of arts and culture organisations.

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

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Audience Outlook Monitor, Key Findings

Victorian Report – August 2023

  • Victorian audiences are among the most active arts and culture consumers of any state, and their frequency of attendance is increasing. However, 6 in 10 (60%) Victorian audience members expect their attendance levels will stay the same in the next 12 months indicating a continuing slow recovery.
  • Financial reasons are the top barrier to attendance facing Victorian audiences (reported by 41% of respondents) with inflationary pressures expected to continue throughout 2023 and 2024. This is compounded by almost half (48%) of Victorian audiences believing that they are financially ‘worse off’ than they were 12 months ago.
  • Victorian audiences are spending less than the national average, and spending levels are not growing. 6 in 10 (60%) of those attending spent $50 or more on tickets to in-person live events and cultural activities, consistent with spending in October 2022 (59%).
  • Victorian audiences are most likely to say they have been ‘looking for things that are free/cheap to do’ (59% agree or strongly agree). However, around half of Victorian audiences are finding things to ‘splash out’ or ‘splurge’ on (52%) – suggesting that audiences are willing to spend more on things they love while making savings elsewhere.
  • The last-minute ticket buying trend prevails among Victorian audiences. 13% of audiences reported that they booked the last event they attended on the day of the event, and 21% booked in the week leading up to it.
  • Last-minute ticket buying is most common among under 35s and lower spenders with half (49%) committing or booking less than two weeks out, and 13% on the day of the event.
  • Victorian audiences are finding a wide range of content appealing, though like those around the country, budget pressures are leading some audiences towards ‘safer’ bets or ‘guaranteed fun’.
  • High proportions of Victorian audiences are seeking out fun, uplifting experiences (78%) and events with great reviews to ensure value for money (61%) and trying new things they haven’t experienced before (57%).
  • Digital channels are paramount to audience engagement – with 75% of recent Victorian attendees finding out about arts and culture events online. Most commonly accessed channels include direct emails from arts organisations (41%), websites (37%) and social media channels, such as Facebook (22%) and Instagram (14%).
  • Victorian audiences are among the most likely to say that online arts and culture offerings are playing a small or substantial role in their lives (52%), however, the proportion of online audiences paying for digital arts experiences has continued to decline steadily over the past 18 months.

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    Audience Outlook Monitor – August 2023

    Topline takeouts:
    • Attendance rates across the country continue their slow recovery since the pandemic.
    • Attendance is reaching its highest point since 2020 (79% attended at least one kind of cultural event in the fortnight prior to data collection, up from 70% in March 2022).
    • Strategic investment and programming shifts have helped many organisations sustain or increase their audience capacity in 2022 and 2023, but recovery is complex, with mixed attendance results across the market.
    • 2 in 3 audience members expect their attendance levels will stay the same in the next 12 months amid a challenging economic outlook.
    • Economic conditions are limiting what Australian audiences can spend on events, and some segments need targeted approaches.
    • Financial reasons are the top barrier to attendance, and inflationary pressures are expected to continue in 2023 and 2024.
    • There is an appetite for free, low cost, and close to home events.
    • Spending levels at arts and culture events are not growing, as audiences weigh up value for money and take longer to make decisions.
    • Younger audiences and families continue to be the most impacted.
    • Audience attitudes: Audiences are in the mood for uplifting experiences – requiring event organisers to think creatively about effecting meaning and building trust in difficult times.
    • Australian audiences are showing significant appetite for a wide range of content, though budget pressures are leading some audiences towards ‘safer’ bets or ‘guaranteed fun’.
    • Social, uplifting experiences and events with great reviews will continue to reach the widest audience in the coming year.
    • Many audiences are hungry for meaning, but care and tact may be needed to when approaching challenging topics.
    • Young people, families and older audiences show stark differences in mood, entertainment priorities, spending patterns and media consumption.
    • Digital Engagement: Audiences continue engaging online in large numbers, and online content is helping audiences find out about events, discover new artists and participate in digital experiences.
    • Digital channels are paramount to audience engagement – with 75% of recent attendees finding out about arts and culture events online.
    • Preferred platforms look very different across age groups: email marketing is the priority for 55+, while word-of-mouth and socials are key for under 35s.
    • 4 in 10 audiences continue to engage in online arts and culture, and half say digital cultural activities still play a role in their lives, despite spending less.

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About the Audience Outlook Monitor

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.

Research methodology

Baseline data was collected in a cross-sector survey involving over 150 arts and culture organisations including museums, galleries, performing arts organisations and festivals across Australia. To date, 120 organisations are still participating in the research.

In each tranche of research, participating organisations have simultaneously distributed a survey to a random sample of their audience who had attended an arts or cultural event in the two years prior to the pandemic.

No individual respondents or organisations are identified.

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 the Guide to using the Dashboard.

User: access@AOM.com.au

Password: Australia

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Download reports 2023