Latest findings from The Audience Agency's Digital Audience Survey show how audiences have responded to arts, culture and heritage organisations moving so much of their offering online during the COVID-19 lock-down period.

This 5 minute survey, deployed by organisations via their websites, social media and other e-communications, invites online audiences to help organisations to better understand:

  • Profiles
  • Motivations
  • Online habits
  • Changes through COVID-19


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Latest Findings | December 2020

Profile

  • As is true of the Audience Finder benchmark for onsite audiences, Dormitory Dependablesand Commuterland Culturebuffs are the best represented Audience Spectrum groups in the Digital Audience survey. This is likely linked to the fact that their in-person attendance is perhaps limited, relative to their levels of interest, because they live away from urban centres. So digital activity allows them to engage in higher proportions when geography is removed as a factor.
  • Experience Seekersthough are engaging significantly more online, making up 13% of audiences, rather than the typical physical 6%.
  • While Performing Arts has a balanced aged demographic, more than half of audiences engaging with Museums and Heritage online are aged 55+ and just under half of Gallery visitors are 55+.
  • Encouragingly, the number of audiences identifying as disabled people engaging online is higher than onsite, a factor that we'll be looking at in more detail in the future.

Visits

  • Around one in four of the Digital Survey respondents visit the organisations’ websites frequently – 29% visit at least once a week or more.
  • While a third of respondents (34%) are first time website visitors - a 7% increase in proportion of first time visitors from Aug 20 (27%).
  • Just over half (55%) of these high frequency website visitors, have attended that organisation in person in the last 12 months.
  • Over a third (41%) have only engaged with the organisation digitally, having never visited the organisation in person.
  • 74% of first time website visitors have never visited the organisation in person.
  • Around one in three (37%) website visitors, though, are also frequent onsite attenders, having visited the organisation in person, within the last 12 months.
  • 80% of first time website visitors to Galleries have never physically attended the organisations. This is compared to 61% and 65% respectively for Museum & Heritage and Performing Arts organisations.
  • There are many non-UK digital audience members. Almost a third (29%) of the digital-only visitors live outside of the UK.

Motivations

  • A large proportion – 59% have discovered new forms of art and culture during this period.
  • Respondents identifying as BAME (71%) were mostly likely to have discovered new forms of art and culture during this period, compared to 59% overall.
  • 61% saying that they are viewing more arts and cultural content online during this period.
  • Performing Arts visitors were more likely to be viewing more arts and cultural content online during this period at 68% compared to 61% overall and 56% for Galleries.
  • Over half ofrespondents identifying as disabled agreed with the statement ‘I am engaging with arts and culture online to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.’
  • In total 52%/54% of 16-24 and 25-34 year olds either agreed or agreed strongly with the statement, compared to 24% of over 65s.
  • 58% say that they are engaging with arts and culture online to boost their mood.
  • Around two thirds of 16-24 and 25-34 year olds either agreed or agreed strongly with the statement ‘I am engaging with arts and culture online to boost my mood’, 65% and 70% respectively, compared to 49% of over 65s.


Demographic Profiles of Online Audiences

Audience Spectrum

CPM Nov 2020 - Audience Spectrum.png

In terms of Audience Spectrum, the profile of audiences engaging with online content since lock-down has been similar to the make-up of physical audiences in 2018/2019 (Audience Finder Benchmark). This includes:

  • The typical over-representation of high and medium engaged groups - particularly Metroculturals, Commuterland Culturebuffsand Dormitory Dependables
  • Compared to the Digital Audience Survey in August 2020 there has been a slight decrease in the medium culturally engaged Dormitory Dependables and Trips & Treats reflecting the family make-up of these segments, where many children have returned to school. And an increase in all higher culturally engaged groups, who are in professions more likely to require continued homeworking or particularly for Experience Seekers which has a high proportion of students facing home learning.
  • Lower engaged groups make up just 17% of online audiences, slightly below the physical arts and culture attendance average of 20% and half as prominent as in the population, of which these groups constitute 34%.

Age

CPM Nov 2020 - Age.png

The Digital Audience age profile has lower proportions of younger audiences, both in comparison to the UK population and the Audience Finder benchmark. When the sample is split by organisation type, its apparent that:

  • Performing Arts has a particularly balanced age demographic, that aligns quite closely with the UK population.
  • Museums and Heritage organisations only manage to attract 14% 16-34 year olds, compared to the Performing Arts which attract 24%. In fact, over half of Museums and Heritage online audiences are 55+.
  • Galleries similarly only attract 17% 16-34 year olds and just under half of online audiences are 55+.

Frequency of website visitation

CPM Nov 2020 - Frequency.png

Around one in four of the Digital Survey respondents visit the organisations’ websites frequently – 29% visit at least once a week or more.

While a third of respondents (34%) are first time website visitors - a 7% increase in proportion of first time visitors from Aug 20 (27%).

  • When comparing Gallery, Museum & Heritage and Performing Arts visitors, Galleries have a significantly higher proportion of first-time website visitors at 49% compared to 20% for Museum & Heritage and Performing Arts.

Of the respondents that have visited at least every two months or more, 23% say that their frequency has increased significantly since the COVID-19 crisis and a further 35% say it has increased somewhat.

  • When comparing artforms, Museum & Heritage and Performing Arts have a higher proportion of visitors that say that their frequency of visits has increased significantly since the COVID-19 crisis, at around a third compared to 19% for Galleries.

Compared to physical attendance

CPM Nov 2020 - Frequency compared ot Physical Attendance.png

Respondents were asked about the frequency of both their website visitation and their physical attendance of the organisation. Predictably, there is strong correlation between frequency of website and physical visits. However, there are some interesting differences between first time visitors to the organisation's website and frequent flyers.

First time vs frequent website visitors

  • Just over half (55%) of these high frequency website visitors, have attended that organisation in person in the last 12 months.
  • Over a third (41%) have only engaged with the organisation digitally, having never visited the organisation in person.
  • 74% of first time website visitors have never visited the organisation in person.
  • Around one in three (37%) website visitors, though, are also frequent onsite attenders, having visited the organisation in person, within the last 12 months.

CPM Nov 2020 - First time vs Frequent website visitors.png

The profile of web vs physical attendance between Museums & Heritage, Galleries and Performing Arts venues differs quite substantially when comparing first time visitors and high frequency website visitors.

  • 80% of first time website visitors to Galleries have never physically attended the organisations. This is compared to 61% and 65% respectively for Museum & Heritage and Performing Arts organisations.
  • 37% and 35% of high frequency website visitors to Galleries and Museums & Heritage organizations have never physically attended the organisations. This is compared to just 24% of performing arts.

Motivations for engaging with arts and culture online

The questionnaire asks respondents whether they agree/disagree with the following 5 statements:

  • I have discovered new forms of arts and culture online.
  • The types of art and cultural content that I am viewing online is similar to what I would normally see in person.
  • I am viewing more online arts and cultural content now than I did before the COVID-19 crisis.
  • I am engaging with arts and culture online to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • I am engaging with arts and culture online to boost my mood.

CPM Nov 2020 - Motivations.png

  • A large proportion – 59% have discovered new forms of art and culture during this period.
  • 61% saying that they are viewing more arts and cultural content online during this period.
  • 58% say that they are engaging with arts and culture online to boost their mood.

These were then cross-tabbed by Audience Spectrum (grouped by level of engagement), age, artform, disability and ethnicity, with some notable differences indicated below. Of particular interest were the differences in responses to the two statements regarding emotional motivations.

Responses by Ethnicity:

CPM Nov 2020 - Responses by Ehtnicity.png

  • Digital Audience Survey respondents identifying as BAME (71%) were mostly likely to have discovered new forms of art and culture during this period, compared to 59% overall.
  • Around half of (50%) of BAME visitors also strongly agreed or agreed with the statement ‘I am engaging with arts and culture online to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.’ compared to 37% overall.

Responses by Artform:

  • Performing Arts visitors were more likely to be viewing more arts and cultural content online during this period at 68% compared to 61% overall.
  • This was notably lower for Galleries at 56%.
  • Performing Arts visitors were more likely to be engaging with arts and culture online to boost their mood at 65% compared to 58% overall.
  • This was notably lower for Galleries at 53%

Responses by Disability:

CPM Nov 2020 - REsponses by disability.png

A higher proportion of Digital Audience Survey respondents identifying as disabled were likely to:

  • Have discovered new forms of art and culture during this period at 66% compared to 59% overall.
  • Be engaging with arts and culture online to boost their mood at 66% compared to 58% overall.
  • Strongly agreed or agreed with the statement ‘I am engaging with arts and culture online to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.’ at 66% compared to 37% overall.

Responses by Age:

Younger audiences were more likely to agree strongly with this statement ‘I am engaging with arts and culture online to boost my mood.’

CPM Nov 2020 - Motivations by Age.png

  • 22%/21% of 16-24 and 25-34 year olds agreed strongly, compared to 10% of over 65s.
  • In total 65% and 70% of 16-24 and 25-34 year olds either agreed or agreed strongly with the statement, compared to 49% of over 65s.

Younger audiences were also more likely to agree strongly with this statement ‘I am engaging with arts and culture online to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.’:

  • 16% of 16-24 year olds agreed strongly, compared to 5% of over 65s.
  • In total 52% of 16-24 year olds either agreed or agreed strongly with the statement, compared to 24% of over 65s.

Responses by Audience Spectrum segment:

CPM Nov 2020 - Motivations by AS.png

‘I am engaging with arts and culture online to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.’

  • 15% of usually low cultural engagement respondents strongly agreed with the statement, compared to just 8% of high engagers.
  • In total nearly half of low engagers (45%) either agreed or agreed strongly with the statement, compared to 36% of high engagers.

We'll be continuing to share insights from the Digital Audience Survey as responses increase over time. Make sure you're signed up to our newsletter for the most up-to-date information.

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