This report summarises results for The Midlands 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 the Midlands, compared to the UK overall, or other nations and regions.

Download the Midlands Summary Report with Charts

Summary of Findings

  • The Midlands had levels of arts and cultural engagement before COVID that were in in line with the UK average, and levels dropped more in EM and less in WM since March 2020 than overall (though drop in Visual arts higher for WM). For creative activities, Midlands (slightly) higher levels than UK, reducing more since March for WM and less for EM than overall.
  • As of the beginning of November, COVID appears to have had a bigger impact on EM in terms of time and money available. WM more facing local lockdowns and EM more shielding.
  • Fewer EM are ready to start attending in person than UK average.

Experience During COVID

  • WM saw lower financial drops than across the UK as a whole: there was a lower proportion who had ‘less’ money since before COVID.
  • (Slightly) higher proportions of EM had less time.
  • WM had a lower proportion to the UK average facing a local lockdown, while EM had a higher proportion shielding.
  • Similar percentages lived in households with children.

In Person Engagement

  • 30% EM and 37% WM had attended any arts/heritage since Mar 2020, below and above the overall UK average of 34%: 87 and 109 cf. to an index of 100.
  • In the 12 months before, it was 86% EM and 86% WM, in line with the UK average.
  • Attendance in EM dropped (slightly) more than overall, compared to pre-March 2020 level, especially for Outdoor arts.
  • Attendance in WM dropped (slightly) less than overall, though a notable drop was seen for Visual arts.

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

  • Almost all activities were done by fewer people*
  • WM read for pleasure and visited libraries at average levels before, but increased just under average after March
  • EM had higher enagement with crafts and visual arts than average before and after
  • Overall, the activity levels of WM reduced more and EM less than those for the UK overall.

For other activities:

  • Most were done more in Midlands before March 2020
  • But most had fallen more in WM than elsewhere since March 2020
  • The overall ranking of activities is similar for EM and WM compared to the whole of the UK.

Online Engagement since March 2020

  • 28% EM and 34% WM watched a performance/ event online since March 2020; 7% EM and 9% WM had taken part in an online activity.
  • EM was below and WM was in line with overall UK averages of 33% and 9%.
  • In the previous 12 months 45% EM and 46% WM (cf. 45% for the UK overall) had watched anything, so most of the lockdown difference is specific to this period, not existing levels.

The proportion of EM / WM who had paid for digital content by the following means were:

  • 18%/17% — Bought ticket/fixed price
  • 18%/19% — Donated/ pay what you like
  • 11%/9% — Part of paid membership

These were in line with the overall UK averages of 17%, 19%, 11%, with WM ‘part of paid membership’ c. 2% lower.

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 EM than the overall average and c.1% higher in WM.
  • The % ‘in play’ for each artform (i.e. who have booked, or are interested in booking) is also c. 3-8% lower than overall average for EM and c. 1-3% higher than overall for WM.

Download the Midlands Summary Report with Charts

More details are available from The Audience Agency on request.