This report summarises audience spectrum profiling and distance travelled for some of those audiences, to give an insight into different types’ attendance, travel patterns and potential future behaviour.
This profiling provides evidence that:
- Home & Heritage are particularly (and consistently) less likely to attend, especially for performing arts.
- Other segments decreasing to a lesser extent are Commuterland Culturebuffs (usually a major part of cultural audiences, so of potentially high impact) and lower-engaged groups Up Our Street and Heydays.
- Other more highly engaged groups (Metroculturals, Experience Seekers, Dormitory Dependables) are increasing their proportion a little within audiences.
- Age, health and baseline levels of engagement appear to be key factors.
- More evidence in our COVID-19 Cultural Participation Monitor.
The distance analysis shows that:
- Performing Arts audiences came from further away than previously
- Museum and Gallery audiences came from further away than previously, or very locally (but a lower proportion in between).
These could be for a range of reasons, e.g.:
- For ‘walk up’ activities, people were staying/exploring very locally, and/or…
- …(as with ticketed events) were more likely to travel for ‘special’ events/trips (things that it was worth travelling further for) but fewer ‘casual’ local trips and/or…
- …were attending a higher proportion of events/places on a domestic holiday and/or…
- …more local museum/gallery options were available.
- Without active intervention, audiences are likely to shift away from traditional tastes a little, towards more varied and contemporary tastes, as the balance of segments adjusts in response to COVID-19.
- Differences of cost and space/ease of circulation (e.g. between performing arts and museums & galleries, but also in terms of formats) are likely to affect which segments engage, potentially accentuating differences between sectors/formats.
- Some lower engaged groups will become harder than ever to reach for existing programmes (e.g. Up Our Street and Heydays) and additional audience development efforts and/or programming changes may be necessary to reach them in future.
- There is a possibility of arts audiences becoming further concentrated among highly-educated, metropolitan populations, without further efforts to diversify reach.
- Lockdown is likely to affect where feels ‘local’ and to change overall distribution of travel, even in non-lockdown periods
- Holidays/(lack of) foreign travel may play a substantial role in attendance patterns (this may also drive up the proportion of groups who might otherwise be travelling abroad, esp. in cultural hotspots/for city breaks)
- A tendency to ‘stay local’ can have a counter-intuitive effect to increase overall travel distance, if there are strong enough counteracting forces for the longest journeys (e.g. holidays, particularly strong ‘must see’ attractions/events), by reducing middling distances but not longer ones.
Read on to understand our findings more fully...
What we did
Looked at  the profile and  proportions by distance bands of audiences for a selection of venues (both performing arts and museums & galleries) for equivalent time periods in 2019 and 2020, to see how these have changed.
Specifically: Based on 106k attenders from 17 Aug – 11 Oct and 1 Aug – 20 Sept from a selection of 8 Performing Arts venues 9 Museums and Galleries from across the country, of a variety of types and scales, for 2019 and 2020, using Audience Finder ticketing data [or survey for 6 Museums and Galleries], weighted by 2019 visitor numbers.
What we found | Profile
Compared with the equivalent period in 2019, there were:
- Higher proportions of Metroculturals, Experience Seekers, Dormitory Dependables and Kaleidoscope Creativity, and
- Lower proportions of Commuterland Culturebuffs, Home & Heritage and Up Our Street, but with variation between the types of venue.
This is likely to reflect a combination of:
- greater reluctance to attend by older age groups (esp. for indoor events),
- income pressures for (some) younger groups,
- pressures to still do things with children for parents...
- lesser reluctance among younger age groups,
- availability of venues closer to home,
- openness to changes of format among some urban-based groups.
Broken down by artform:
- Commuterland Culturebuffs have reduced notably relative to other higher engaged segments.
- Home & Heritage have significantly reduced for performing arts and are likely to be more cautious due to age.
- Up Our Street may have financial pressures and also contain higher proportions of older Black and Asian households.
- Heydays have low in-person attendance already, but are likely to be strongly averse to attending during COVID-19.
Higher proportional attendance for both Performing Arts (PA) and Museums and Galleries (M&G):
Lower proportional attendance for both PA and M&G:
Lower for M&G but higher for PA:
Lower for PA but higher for M&G:
These profiles show proportions, not absolute numbers (although we show this absolute decline for performing arts later).
Some segments have reduced by more than average, and are of particular note (especially where, like Commuterland Culturebuffs, they are a significant part of many cultural audiences).
Decrease in Audience Members
For the Performing Arts data, we looked at total booker numbers for each time period. This chart shows the % decrease in the total number of bookers for each segment*.
*since we profiled a selection of venues which had reopened, overall sector reductions are higher than those shown.
An alternative view is to look at the profile of those performing arts venue audiences who didn’t attend in 2020, compared to 2019*.
This really highlights the importance of the drop in Commuterland Culturebuffs: 25% of the total non-returners.
*e.g. the total number of bookers dropped by 23.2k, the number of Metroculturals dropped by 3.4k, which is 15% of 23.2k.
What we found | Distance
We looked at the change in distance by plotting the distance between organisations and attenders, grouped into standard bands. This was done three ways (to ensure the specific method of defining distance wasn’t the cause of any observed difference):
- Straight line distance (i.e. ‘distance as the crow flies’)
- Drive distance (i.e. the length of roads on the shortest route from A to B)
- Drive time (the time to drive that shortest route, in average traffic)
All gave the same overall result.
Performing arts and Museums and Galleries had a similar overall pattern of attendance by distance, however performing arts had higher proportions from 100+ miles away and lower proportions for each band from 20-99 miles away.
Between lockdowns, performing arts proportions reduced for all distances below 20 miles (esp. the most local) and increasing for further away, with 100+ miles rising to 32%.
Museum and Gallery audiences increased within 0-4 and beyond 30 miles away, but by lesser amounts.
The overall picture is the same for drive distance (although the audience appears further away, since the average distance by road is always longer than the straight line distance).
This shows decreases for performing arts within 45 minutes, but most increase over 2 hours. For museums and galleries, there is an increase within 15 mins, then decreases up to 1.5 hours away.
Notes about the research
This profiling gives an insight into which audiences have been more reluctant to return in this interim period, but we should be cautious to generalise, because:
- The sample is only 17 organisations (with limited coverage within London, for example).
- Changes in profile were not always consistent between individual venues.
- Changes will be driven by changes to programming in this period.
- Behaviours may, in any case, change between this period and future engagement.
However, evidence from our Population Monitor should enrich our understanding shortly.
If you're interested to hear more about this research, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org