This report summarises results for Scotland from the first wave of The Audience Agency’s COVID-19 Monitor.

The Audience Agency's COVID-19 Cultural Participation Monitor is a nationally-representative online survey of the UK population and their experiences and responses to COVID, particularly in relation to cultural engagement. The wave 1 sample of 6,055 responses was carried out between Oct and Nov 2020.

This report draws out some headline figures and key differences for Scotland, compared to the UK overall, or other nations and regions.

Download the Scottish Audiences Summary Report with Charts


Summary of Findings

  • Scotland had lower levels of arts and cultural engagement before COVID than were in line with the UK average, but levels dropped further in Scotland since March 2020 than overall (esp. for performing arts).
  • As of the beginning of November, COVID appears to have had less impact in Scotland in terms of time and money available to people. More people faced local lockdowns, but fewer were shielding.
  • Fewer Scots are ready to start attending in person than the UK average.

Experience During COVID-19

  • Fewer Scots saw financial drops than across the UK as a whole: there were a similar proportion more who had ‘about the same amount of money as before COVID.
  • A few more Scots had both more or the same amount of time.
  • Scots were more likely to have faced a local lockdown, but less likely to be shielding.
  • A lower percentage lived in households with children.

In Person Engagement

  • 30% of Scots had attended any arts/heritage since Mar 2020, below the overall UK average of 34%: 89 cf. to an index of 100.
  • It was notably higher than Northern Ireland and Wales, (indices of 73% and 63%).
  • In the 12 months before, it was 85%, in line with the UK average.
  • Attendance by Scots dropped further than overall, compared to pre-March 2020 level, especially for performing arts.(NB that this is comparing 9 and 12 month periods).

Comparing creative activities before and after March 2020, four things stand out:

  • Almost all activities were done by fewer people.
  • Scots read for pleasure at average levels before, but increased (even) more​.
  • More Scots visited libraries before March, but that proportion decreased more than elsewhere after March.
  • Overall, the activity levels of Scots have reduced less than those for the UK overall.

Online Engagement since March 2020

  • 29% of Scots watched a performance/ event online since March 2020; 6% had taken part in an online activity.
  • These was below the overall UK averages of 33% and 9%: 89 and 72 cf. an index of 100.
  • In the previous 12 months 41% (cf. 45% for the UK overall) had watched anything (an index of 92), so most of the lockdown difference reflects existing digital engagement levels.

The proportion of Scots who had paid for digital content by the following means were:

  • 11% — Bought a ticket/fixed price
  • 16% — Donated/ pay what you like
  • 6% — Part of paid membership

These was below the overall UK averages of 17%, 19%, 11%:65, 80 and 58 cf. to an index of 100.


Future Engagement

  • The % who are currently ‘in play’ (i.e. who have booked, or are interested in booking) for ANY art and heritage activity of those listed (see next page) is c. 4% lower in Scotland than the overall average.

The % ‘in play’ for each artform (i.e. who have booked, or are interested in booking) is also c. 4-5% below the overall average.Exceptions are:

  • museums and visual arts [-3%]
  • ‘events connected with books or writing’ [-2%]
  • heritage/historic sites/gardens [-1%]

Download the Scottish Audiences Summary Report with Charts

More details are available from The Audience Agency on request.