Suburban and small towns interest in heritage activities and mainstream arts

  • A significant proportion of arts audiences are made up of this dependably regular if not frequently engaging group
  • Most live in suburban or small towns and show a preference for heritage activities alongside popular and more traditional mainstream arts
  • Many are thriving, well off mature couples or busy older families
  • Lifestage coupled with more limited access to an extensive cultural offer mean that culture is more an occasional treat or family or social outing than an integral part of their lifestyle

COVID-19 Dormitory Dependables Profile

  • Health and Wellbeing: Based away from major urban centres, but could mean that, where relevant, news of any local outbreaks feels more of an immediate threat.
  • Income and Employment: Tend to be fairly affluent. Concerns from
    unemployment may be particularly linked to missing what would have been the peak earning years of their career.
  • Family and Relationships: Mostly mature couples and older families. Less likely to have been alone during lockdown, May be thinking about effect of Covid re older children (e.g. A Levels / university) and feeling the pressure of home schooling.
  • Location and Environment: Often suburban and rural. Keen on gardening and DIY, which may have formed part of their lockdown activity.
  • Arts and Culture: Usually regular if not frequent. Skew towards heritage, so some sites of interest are open sooner than arts venues will be. Would miss panto if cancelled.
  • Digital and Streaming: Not typically big users of digital content channels, though have high take up of paid satellite/TV services and may have been doing more during lockdown. Unlikely to take out ongoing arts streaming
    subscriptions, due to more middling engagement levels, but may pay for one-offs.
  • Importance of Arts: Not ‘arty’, but enjoy arts for entertainment, socialising and relaxing.
  • Risk: Given motivations, likely to be put off if arts attending is distanced, feels risky or is hard to relax.
  • Other: May have been missing watching sports. More likely to donate to heritage organisations but may be more hesitant in future due to the risks to their own income.

More about the impact of COVID-19 on audiences

More about Dormitory Dependables

Dormitory Dependables are an important group whose infrequent but regular attendance, coupled with their large representation within the population means that they form a significant proportion of many cultural audiences.

Cultural interests

Living in suburban and rural areas their access to a broad range of arts offerings is not as extensive as it might be, and this along with their busy lifestyles, may contribute to their infrequent engagement. Sometimes when they do attend they have to make time and travel, so arts and culture may tend to be more of a special treat than part and parcel of their everyday social lives.

They do not think of themselves as particularly arty people, but enjoy attending to be entertained and to socialise and relax with friends.

Whilst open to a broad range of arts and cultural activities, they have a marked inclination towards popular and mainstream offerings, with more than half taking in events annually. Their disposition towards contemporary and classical events is not quite as strong, but those artforms are still attended roughly in line with or slightly above the national average.

Museum and gallery visits are made regularly but infrequently with the majority visiting once or twice a year. They do have a marked leaning towards heritage sites, to which they have quite good access, with more than half of all households visiting annually. Of those who do visit heritage sites, nearly half go three or four times a year.


Other leisure interests

The home is an important focus for Dormitory Dependables – many are keen DIY enthusiasts and gardeners. Their love of the outdoors is not restricted to gardening, as almost two thirds regularly take part in sports and exercise activities.

Visiting restaurants, bars and clubs are also ways in which they like to use their leisure time to spend time, often with friends or family. They are very keen cinema goers.

With many successful or established in managerial and professional careers, they can afford to use their available income to enjoy holidays or take up new hobbies.


Distribution of Dormitory Dependables

There are significant numbers of households from this group spread across every English region, with the biggest concentrations found in the South East and the North West.

Visit our Audience Mapping tool in the Audience Finder dashboard to investigate the location of this segment


Creative participation

Their strong interest in musicals and other live music events is reflected in a relatively high propensity to play a musical instrument.

Photography is another artistic activity that they have an inclination towards, as are the use of computers to create original artworks and the making of film and videos.

They are also apt to purchase original works of art and handmade crafts.

87% have participated in arts and cultural activities in the last 12 months



Dormitory Dependables tend to be quite comfortably off, being either successful people in senior management positions, or highly experienced in lower managerial, supervisory or technical roles. About two thirds of households have an income of over £25,000 per year.

Their education profile is similar to that of the English population at large, with a third having attained a degree or higher level of qualification. A number have also gained higher educational qualifications below degree level, and around 4% have undertaken trade apprenticeships.

More likely to think of themselves as sporty rather than arty, they do however feel it is important to be able to have access to opportunities to enjoy cultural experiences, particularly museums, galleries and heritage sites, e.g. as social occasions and days out, which are often organised with and around family and friends.

Digital habits

Digital is an important information source for Dormitory Dependables. Arts and cultural organisations’ websites are widely used (especially heritage organisations), as a place to find out information about events, artists, performers and venues. However, they are less likely to book tickets, or to view arts and cultural content through cultural organisations’ websites.

Use of social networking sites is slightly above the average – used to find out information, chat about events they’ve experienced and to share pictures, music and other media content. Twitter is preferred to Facebook, and given their musical interests, Spotify is particularly popular.


63% visited a theatre or concert organisation's website to find out information
53% visited a theatre or concert organisation's website to buy tickets


As their digital habits illustrate, there is no such thing as too much information for Dormitory Dependables. They like to see all the facts and consider their options before making rational, analytical decisions. Once they have all the information, they’ll have no trouble at all making a decision. They are apt to change their minds, if there are good enough reasons to do so.

There is a fairly broad readership across the range of newspapers, perhaps reflecting an assortment of political outlooks. Stronger preferences where they do exist are for The Daily Mail, The Independent and The Times.

Take up of satellite and TV services, such as Sky are quite high, with people prepared to pay for the content they want, rather than just accepting free to air digital choices.

Community involvement

A quite community minded group, a quarter of all Dormitory Dependables have done some form of voluntary work in the last 12 months. They are averagely disposed to volunteering with arts and cultural organisations, but much more likely to do so around sports.

25% volunteered in last 12 months
5% volunteer in the arts
1% volunteer in museums and galleries
5% volunteer in heritage
24% volunteer in sports

Giving & volunteering

Only 5% have made donations to arts organisations in the last 12 months. More have donated to museums and galleries, but they are most likely to donate to heritage organisations. A majority feel that making donations in this way will make a difference to the cultural opportunities available to them. Overall levels of giving are around average or just above, with most people donating two or three times a year, for sums of £20 or less.

Schools, higher education, developing countries and famine relief are the causes outside the arts that this group has the highest propensity, above the average, to give towards.



The majority of households are living in privately owned semi-detached or detached houses in dormitory towns, from Rochdale to Romford, spread around the country, with large concentrations in the South East, North West, East, South West.

They are averagely or slightly more than averagely disposed to engaging with arts and cultural events and with museums and gallery activities and tend to appear in significant numbers in many or most audiences within reach of where they live. The arts provide them with opportunities for social occasions, but their social lives do not depend on the arts. They have a particular leaning towards the heritage offer. They attend arts and cultural events infrequently compared to the most highly engaged groups, but regularly, so there may be merit in trying to persuade them to take part or attend more often. As “warm” prospects and numerous in number, successful efforts to engage them more frequently could potentially have large impacts on audiences overall.

Popular and mainstream events are this group’s default preference, but they are not averse to contemporary, and possibly slightly more risky, experiences. The offer will be received more enthusiastically when it is geared towards an emphasis on the experience and all its trappings, rather than any overly deep focus on the artistic merits of the event.


Live music is a chief interest of Dormitory Dependables, with an emphasis on the popular or mainstream. They attend rock and pop events more than any other group, with classical or choral music less popular than average.

As their preference for the popular suggests, pantomime, musicals, live dance events and street arts are also relatively sought after. A large number also attend plays and drama, but are not likely to do so more than once or twice a year. There is a large proportion of families with children, so family friendly programme choices form an important part of the mix.

Their interest in heritage, history and current affairs may also be fruitful areas to explore. As many have a keen interest in visiting art exhibitions, displays and installations. These might all be features that can be developed individually or in combination to good effect through programme offers.

Respond to opportunities for socialising with friends and family

85% of the music attenders go to rock/pop events


Dormitory Dependables are keen to explore new learning opportunities and stretch their intellect. Their charitable giving reflects these interests in their support of schools and higher education and partnerships with learning communities might well be beneficially entered into by all parties. The same may also be true of charities supporting developing countries.

Two thirds also participate regularly in sport and exercise, so sports clubs, teams and related stakeholders might prove high profile enough to create popular partnership opportunities.

Place: Environment

As reasons for attending the arts tend to revolve around finding opportunities to relax, socialise and be entertained – often by way of a special treat – the surroundings need to be mindful of providing suitable facilities and ambiance to fulfil this need.

The enquiring nature and thirst for knowledge of Dormitory Dependables also requires information, so exhibitions and displays should provide rich background detail and an appropriate level of interpretative material.

Place: Access & Distance

Living in provincial towns, city suburbs or rural areas means that accessing arts and cultural opportunities often involves a degree of travel. Car ownership is high above average, meaning distance doesn’t necessarily deter Dormitory Dependables from attending. Good transport links will help, as will clear guidance on the best options for getting to the event. Timing of events may also be an important consideration to make sure they fit with travel plans.

Good health is a fairly broad feature amongst Dormitory Dependables, and with a high instance of families with children, venues, events and facilities might benefit significantly from ensuring a Family Friendly approach.


There is a mixture of levels of disposable income amongst Dormitory Dependables, particularly between those in senior managerial and professional positions, and those in lower management and supervisory roles.

Add to this the mix between those with children at home and those empty nesters and it becomes clear that a model of mixed pricing strategies are required.

Some discount based promotions around family or social groups might appeal as a means to addressing both the overall cost of attending relative to disposable income, and ‘risk’ factors where programming style veers away from the popular and mainstream.

Try discount based promotions around family or social groups


Dormitory Dependables are busy and active, so providing clear information on how the offer will meet a need is key. They are less reliant on word of mouth, and more confident in their own choices when given enough appropriate detail on what, how, why, when and where to attend.

They are most responsive to email communications, SMS messaging and phone as direct communications channels, and least likely to respond to postal mailings.


Dormitory Dependables are keen to participate in a wide range of activities, which can be tailored around opportunities to develop and showcase individual skills such as photography and playing musical instruments.

Providing access to activities which might be undertaken in groups, such as rehearsing or performing drama, ballet or other kinds of dance may prove little less popular but are still likely to be taken up in line with or slightly above average levels.

Keen to participate in a wide range of activites
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Giving & Volunteering

Appeals for low level, infrequent giving are most likely to meet with success amongst Dormitory Dependables. Heritage organisations, museums and galleries are most likely to appeal to their sense of charity and history, especially if the benefits to the wider public from such giving, e.g. preservation and development of engagement opportunities is clearly articulated.

Levels of volunteering generally are around average, however most of their volunteering happens outside the arts, museums or heritage sectors. The most likely way to engage them as volunteers is co-opt them in the running of activities and events.

Relationship building

As largely infrequent attenders, friends or membership schemes for which benefits are realised over multiple attendances will likely have limited appeal. Instead, strategies aimed at encouraging more frequent engagement e.g. Test Drive are likely to prove more effective. These could also be linked to their wider social motivations and incorporate catering offers or other incentives (which might be time limited).

Increasing reach and diversity

Being largely homogenous in terms of ethnic background, social status, age and disability there are limited opportunities for increasing reach and diversity. There are some small pockets of diversity within these characteristics, so taking a welcoming and inclusive approach, rather than proactively seeking to identify and target small minority elements within these characteristics might be the most effective course of action.

Lifestage & location

There are significant numbers of households from this group spread across every English region, with the biggest concentrations found in the South East and the North West.


Infrequently attending but regular, Dormitory Dependables make up one of the largest proportions of the population. They are warm to museums and the arts, and in particular to popular and mainstream events. A small increase in their individual engagement could potentially have a big effect on audiences overall. They are very keen on live music events and have a particular preference for the heritage offer.