Our research has been ongoing throughout the pandemic providing you with a clearer picture of what is happening, what might be coming, and how you can meet it.

To mark 12 months of lockdowns across the UK, we've drawn together key findings from the year.

Browse our top takeaways from an unprecedented year and delve deeper into the data that has informed these findings...


Audiences

  • We’ve seen considerable inequality in the impacts of COVID, that reinforce existing inequalities: in particular, the financial impact has been particularly felt by lower engaged Audience Spectrum groups, those in semi-routine and routine manual and service occupations, who are younger, Black and Asian and who have a disability. Only 11% of those in routine manual and service occupations said they had more money as a result of the pandemic, compared to 40% of those in modern professions (more than any other response for this group).The fact that those who’ve been vaccinated so far are more likely to be older, White and from more affluent areas contributes only further to the gap.

  • These broad demographic differences cut across another key difference we’ve seen throughout the pandemic: variations between particular Audience Spectrum groups. In particular, we’ve repeatedly seen the following patterns:
  1. Metroculturals, Experience Seekers, Kaleidoscope Creativity: More engaged digitally before, during and (expecting to) after; have returned when possible and are most willing to return in future.
  2. Commuterland Culturebuffs, Home & Heritage: Less engaged digitally, less likely to have returned, less willing to return soon.
  3. Other segments have been less polarised, but with households with children often driven towards attending by the needs of children.

  • These segment groupings could have big implications for attendance as we continue to reopen, with strong indications that the younger, highly educated audiences, living in cities and with more varied and contemporary tastes are more likely to be keen to return. Those less likely to return quickly are likely to be older, more traditional, suburban and rural audiences. This is likely to affect different types of organisations differently: with London-based and contemporary organisations finding their audiences more willing to return.

  • Just under 1 in 5 have been ready to return straight away for many months (e.g. back in October/November, 18% were willing to attend indoor, seated events). This figure was higher for outdoor events, engaged audiences and has grown as time went on, with 27% of the general public now ‘happy to attend’ an event that they wanted to see, after lockdown has lifted.

  • Those who have returned have been satisfied with safety measures. 49% of returners rated themselves ‘very satisfied’ with safety measures on a recent visit, with 47% rating them as having had ‘no impact’ on quality of experience, and 28% saying they had improved it.


Digital

  • Although a much higher proportion of activity has been online, there’s reason to doubt that translates to wider reach overall: 45% of the population watched digital online cultural content in the 12 months before the pandemic. Only 33% had in the next seven months. This had dipped particularly for families and 35-44 year olds, for reasons which will be clear for anyone who’s had to home school…

  • Segments with already high digital engagement (such as Metroculturals, Experience Seekers and Kaleidoscope Creativity) are engaging relatively more and expecting to do so into the future as well. A similar % of audiences are engaging online as before COVID, but 53% of those who are, are engaging more often, suggesting that the surge in digital appetite that we've seen during lockdown is likely driven by increased engagement from existing, rather than new, audiences.

  • Notably, the profile of audiences who are engaging enthusiastically with digital content is strikingly similar to those expressing the most willingness to return to in person events. Although causes differ (e.g. openness to digital channels vs concerns about safety), the result could well be that these two divides reinforce each other.


Sales

  • Audience Finder shows us a reduction in discounts and offers, along with downward real-term pressure on ticket prices in the five years pre-pandemic.

  • Comparing 'Covid-time' with average s from the preceding three years, we can see that NPOs in England lost £217M of sales that would have been reported via Audience Finder in 2020, with losses continuing to grow at around £15M per week. For more about sales through the pandemic, explore our dashboard.

  • Income from online activity has potential to grow (and continue beyond the pandemic). Of those who have engaged online during COVID, 16% have bought a ticket, 16% donated and 13% have a paid membership. Of those who are interested in online cultural events and activities, more than 60% say they are willing to pay though - so there's definite room for growth there.

  • As of February 22nd, only a small proportion of people had booked or planned a trip in the next two months and expected it to go ahead (5% for each of film, live performances and indoor galleries; 8% for outdoor heritage and 4% for other — a total of 16% for anything). There’s appetite for engagement, but it hasn’t turned into sales just yet…