Findings from the Autumn 2022 wave of our Cultural Participation Monitor look at how, as the threat of Covid recedes in most minds, the cost-of-living crisis takes its place as the latest arts engagement challenge, even while personal creativity seems to be on the rise.

Key Points

  1. Fears surrounding Covid are softening, with half feeling 'back to normal' and fewer than 1 in 10 people expressing strong concern about catching the virus themselves, although over half still worry about vulnerable friends and family, while support for certain safety precautions remains high.
  2. In good news, recent arts, culture and heritage attendance has risen to an impressive 90% among respondents, with film and museums/heritage proving especially popular, particularly with families, while online arts activities continue to attract a younger and more ethnically diverse audience.
  3. While willingness to attend continues to trend upwards however, people do anticipate that their future in-person participation will be less frequent than pre-pandemic, though outdoor events are an exception, and they also intend to engage with cultural activities more locally (and inexpensively) than before.
  4. The vast majority of respondents say that they are worried about the effects of the cost-of-living crisis on them and their household, with a whopping 92% intending to scale back on entertainment spend outside of the home as a result, especially among mid-engaged, middle-aged and less urban groups.
  5. As audiences tighten their belts, they also plan to reduce their general spend in venues' shops and cafés, though the former looks to be harder hit than the latter, where younger and highly culturally engaged visitors express a willingness to pay slightly more for greener and more ethical alternatives.
  6. While financial uncertainty might make people nervous about splashing out on more expensive arts and culture activities, over 40% of people say that pursuing creative hobbies in their own time is a key interest, a trend that skews towards younger participants and has increased through the pandemic.

Presentation | Our Head of Evidence Talks Through the Findings

1. Ongoing Attitudes to Covid

Concerns about catching Covid

Significant numbers do remain somewhat concerned about Covid, with 39% ‘agreeing’ or ‘strongly agreeing’ that they are worried about catching Covid, while 55% say that they are worried about others they know falling ill with it.

Concern about Covid cropped.jpg

  • However, only 9% ‘strongly agreeing’ they are worried about catching Covid, which is much lower than the 13% who said so in Spring 2022.
  • A slightly less reduced 15% ‘strongly agree’ that they are worried about others they know catching it, down from 18% six months ago.
  • A majority of 53 % think they can avoid catching or spreading it with precautions, while 39% say they have stopped making Covid-specific lifestyle adjustments altogether - and we can speculate this is in fact far higher in practice, given that 61% say that ‘it is time for people to get back to normal’.
  • That said, only a minority of 31% say that they consider the Covid pandemic to be ‘effectively over’ in the UK, although this is up from 25% in the spring.

Attitudes towards safety measures

There remains widespread support for various Covid safety measures:

  • Oddly, 76% still consider ready availability of hand sanitiser indoors ‘very important’ or ‘important’, narrowly behind enhanced ventilation at 79%.
  • Social distancing was the least popular measure, with only 51% rating it as ‘very important’ or ‘important’.
  • Masks and ventilation were rated as much more important indoors compared to outdoors (54% cf. 36% and 79% cf.49% respectively).

There is, however, a sense that Covid’s threat is receding:

  • Only 13% think the risks of catching/spreading Covid are ‘very high’ or ‘high’ from everyday activities outside the home (but 30% for indoor events).
  • Looking ahead, 36% think it is ‘very likely’ that it Covid will have an impact in 6 months, 18% in a year and 14% in two years.

Longterm covid impact very likely cropped.png

2. Recent Engagement Trends

In Person Attendance

Attendance for in-person arts and heritage has risen since Spring 2022, from 70% to 90%.

Rising engagement.png

  • Though older age groups are still engaging less than the younger age groups (76% of those aged 65 and over have done anything in-person), their attendance is still up from the spring (where only 53% had done anything in-person).
  • Similarly, people with disabilities have lower in-person engagement (83%) but higher than in the previous wave (61%).
  • Conversely, attendance among families is particularly high (97%), and especially for families with children up to 10 years old.

The most popular activities were film and museum/heritage activities:

  • 65% went to see a film in the last year, including 31% going more than once.
  • And 61% went to a historic park or garden, including 21% going several times.

Activity level by artform corrected.png

Online Attendance

Younger people were still the most likely to engage with art/heritage activities online, with 81% of 16-24 year olds doing any activity in the last year, compared to 36% for those 65 and older (cf. 57% overall).

Online engagement by Agegroup.png

  • The activity that older people were most likely to have done was watching a live/recorded event (30%).
  • Younger people were particularly more likely to take part in a workshop / discussion/ art project (55% did any of these, cf. 28% overall) and 37% had taken part in an immersive online experience.
  • Black, Asian and Mixed ethnicity groups were also much more likely to have done online activities (78%, 70%, 80% respectively),
  • Families were also more likely to have engaged online (71%).
  • People with disabilities were not noticeably more likely to have done online activities than those not identifying as disabled.
  • Nor were people living in rural areas, compared to urban.

Online Activity by AS Subsegment.png

  • Metroculturals, Experience Seekers and Kaleidoscope Creativity were the most likely Audience Spectrum segments to have taken part in any online arts/heritage activities (72% and 70% respectively).
  • This was especially true for M2, E2, K2 - the younger subsegment in each case.
  • Metroculturals were particularly more likely to have watched an event recording or stream (63% vf. 48% overall).
  • Kaleidoscope Creativity were especially likely to visit an online exhibition (32% vf. 17% overall).
  • Experience Seekers were more likely to take part in an art project through social media (27% cf. 16% overall).

Online activity type by dominant segment.png

3. Plans for Future Attendance

Willingness to Attend

Willingness to attend in the wake of the pandemic has continued to recover since Spring 2022, with over half (52%) saying that they are ‘willing to attend’ (and 75% saying they ‘are happy to attend’ or ‘would consider attending with reservations’).

Willingness to attend.png

However, most people expect to attend art forms less in future than they did before the pandemic, rather than more, with the exception being outdoor events.


Planning to attend LESS compared to Pre-Pandemic

Planning to attend MORE compared to Pre-Pandemic




Live Performances



Indoor galleries, museums and heritage sites



Outdoor parks, gardens and heritage sites




20-24% of people also continue to expect to engage with arts and culture more locally, while only 9-12% anticipated attending further from home.

  • This is likely influenced by the 41% of those working who said they worked from home all or most of the time in the past three months.
  • 38% expect to all or most of the time over the next three months as well.
  • 49% also prefer working from home all or most of the time.
  • Those worse off financially since the pandemic were more likely to stay closer to home for arts and culture, especially for outdoor arts and heritage.

Finances by local intentions.png

This shift in behaviour looks to be here to stay, at least for the immediate term.

4. Cost of Living Crisis

Who is most concerned

Almost half of people say that they are worse off now than they were pre-pandemic, and 81% are worried about the effects of the cost-of-living crisis on themselves and their households.

Cost of living chart 1.png cost of living chart update.png

Those who ‘strongly agree’ that they are worried about the cost-of-living crisis are more likely to be: women (51%); 25-55 years old (52%); those with children (53%); and disabled people (56%).

  • Metroculturals and Commuterland Culturebuffs are slightly less likely to be worried about the cost-of-living crisis, as are retirees, only 30% of whom ‘strongly agree’ that they are concerned about its effect on their lifestyle.
  • Typically mid-to-low engaged Audience Spectrum segments are the most concerned about the impact of cost-of-living, with family and less urban groups expecting to reduce out-of-home entertainment spend the most.

Cost of living worry by subsegment.png

Concerningly, the Audience Spectrum groups who returned disproportionately strongly to in-person arts attendance over the past year, are now the ones saying that they expect their leisure spend to be hit the most by the cost-of-living crisis.

How people expect to scale back

People are more likely to feel worse off (46%) than better off (21%) compared with before the pandemic and are worried about the impact of the cost of living crisis:


Strongly Agree or Agree

Strongly Agree

I am worried about the ‘cost of living crisis’ and its effect on me/my household.



The ‘cost of living crisis’ means that I expect to do fewer paid-for entertainment and leisure activities over the next year.



The ‘cost of living crisis’ means that I expect to look for more free entertainment and leisure activities over the next year.



The ‘cost of living crisis’ means that I expect to stay closer to home for entertainment and leisure activities over the next year, e.g. to reduce fuel costs.



The ‘cost of living crisis’ means that I expect to reduce my spending where I can.



Breaking this down a bit further by spending intentions, we find that:

  • 92% expect to reduce their spend on ‘Entertainment outside the home’ to some degree as a result of the cost of living crisis, and over half anticipating that they will do so ‘a lot’.
  • A 57% majority say that they expect to spend less on entertainment and leisure compared to before the pandemic: 27% think it will reduce ‘a lot’.
  • This reduction is especially high for middle-engaged groups and middle-aged, non-London and rural respondents.

We also asked respondents whether they intended to ‘reduce spending a lot’, ‘reduce spending a little’ or ‘not try to reduce’ spending across a range of categories:

Spending Reduction by Category.png

At 52% saying they would cut spending 'a lot' on ‘Entertainment and leisure outside the home’, this was the third-highest grouping of activities for cutting spending ‘a lot’.

  • This was grouped along with ‘food and drink outside the home’ (54%) and ‘travel and holidays’ (51%).
  • ‘Household bills’ and ‘entertainment and leisure within the home’ saw a lower reduction in the low 40s, while ‘transport’ and ‘food and shopping for essentials’ is the thing people expect to cut back on the least.
  • The competition between in-home and out-of-the-home entertainment and leisure is particularly notable, with the latter more likely to be squeezed.

At 68%, the only thing people said they expected to cut back spending on to an even greater degree was ‘non-essential retail’.

For a deeper dive into the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on arts culture and heritage, catch up with our TEA Break on this topic.

5. Spend in Cultural Shops and Cafés

Feelings of being worse off and likely to spend less translate into less inclination to visit arts venues' gift shops and, to a lesser extent, cafés across all types of activity.

Spending less in shops and cafes.png

  • 26-35% say they are less likely to go to a gift shop for the different artforms than before the pandemic, while only 8-9% said they were more likely.
  • Intentions to visit venues' cafés are similar but less marked, with 21-26% less likely and 13-18% more likely to do so.
  • Shop footfall is therefore likely to fall further than café footfall.

Spending Habits in Gift Shops

People mainly buy for:

  1. themselves (53%),
  2. followed by children they're with (28%),
  3. then adults they aren't (15%).

Who people buy for.png

Though these habits break down more specifically by the age of the spender:

  • the older the respondent, the less likely they are to be buying for themselves;
  • middle-aged groups are more likely than others to be buying for children they are with;
  • older respondents are more likely to be buying for children (and adults) they aren’t with.

Spending Habits in Cafés

Food preferences.png

Nearly 1 in 5 are looking for locally sourced/ethical products and 1 in 7 seek vegetarian or vegan options.

  • More than 4 in 10 have either ethical food preferences or other another dietary requirement/preference from those listed.
  • 14% look for vegetarian options.
  • Younger age groups were much more likely to look for each of the options listed, as were Metroculturals and Experience Seekers.
  • The preference for vegan options falls away more quickly with age than the more ‘mainstream’ vegetarian preference (17% cf. 12% among 16-24s; 7% cf. 1% for 75+).
  • Vegetarianism was also much higher among those from Asian/Asian British backgrounds (25%, cf. 14% overall), as was the desire for halal options (40% cf. 6% overall).

Green payment potential.png

At 58%, most say they are prepared to pay more for green alternatives, but few more than 20% more (28% up to 10% more; 19% 10-20% more; 11% 20-50% more).

  • Almost 4 in 10 of those who wouldn't pay more would still prefer green alternatives, if at the same price.
  • This suggests that there is scope for greener offers, but that price sensitivity remains important.
  • Willingness to pay more for green alternatives was higher among younger groups (22% of 16-24s, but only 2% of those 75+), and for those in the lowest quartile by IMD (16%, cf. 9% in the highest quartile).

6. Everyday Creative Participation

Only 10% of people ‘strongly agree’ that going to arts and culture is one of their main interests, but a further 30% ‘agree’. And, beyond that, 41% profess personal creative pursuits to be among their key interests.

Creative Hobbies

A strong 41% ‘agree’ (26%) or ‘strongly agree’ (15%) that creative hobbies are a main interest of theirs.

Creative Activities by Age.png

  • Both of these skew towards younger people, with creative hobbies higher among women (48% ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’, cf. 34% for men).
  • A 57% majority of 16-19 year olds ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that creative hobbies are a main interest of theirs.

Taking part in creative activities rose compared to before the pandemic, with 85% saying they had taken part in any of the options in the last 12 months, compared to 80% in the year before the pandemic.

Creative Activities vs Pre Covid.png

  • The largest increase was for creating with the natural world (41% in the last year cf. 31% pre-pandemic) and making food (66% cf. 59%), which were also the two most popular activities overall.
  • Kaleidoscope Creativity were more likely to have taken part in an activity (91%) and Home and Heritage and Commuterland Culturebuffs were the least likely (79% for both).
  • Women were also more likely to have taken part (89% cf. men 81%).
  • Younger people were a lot more likely (96% of 16-24 year olds) with particularly higher than average participation in fashion and style activities (65% cf. 29% overall), gaming (67% cf. 34%) and visual arts (58% cf. 27%).
  • At 76%, younger people were, though, less likely to have read for pleasure in the last year, whilst 87% of 65s and older had done so.
  • Families were also more likely to have taken part in independent creative pursuits (88%).

Support for Creative Participation

Support Needed for Creative Activities.png

Lower costs, ideas and inspiration, and help with skills/training were the top three things that respondents said would help to support their creative activities (47%, 38%, 31% respectively).

  • Visual arts, crafts and fashion tended to want support with materials and resources.
  • Film and audio and performing arts tended to want more help with spaces to do their activity, as well as access to technology.
  • Earning money or turning the activity into a career was more often picked by those who did writing or visual arts.
  • People doing dancing and discussions around arts and culture tended to want more support with finding peers.

Where, How and With Whom

  • A majority of activities were most often done alone, most prominently craft and writing.
  • Making food, discussing arts, and performing arts, though, were all done mostly with others from the same household.
  • All activities were most done at home, although a few had higher proportions than others doing them outside the home: dance, performing arts, and discussions about arts and culture.
  • Many of the activities (but not all) had a majority saying that they would like to do it more, and better, but not differently.

If Everyday Creativity is an area of interest for you, we'll be delving more into what the data tells us about this topic in our free online TEA Break on Nov 9th.

Our Head of Evidence Talks Through the Findings

Download the Data Presentation