The Midlands Pandemic Experience
While the deep impact of the Covid-19 crisis has been felt by arts and culture organisations and audiences nationwide, the Midlands have seen longer and stricter lockdowns than many regions.
- This is particularly around Leicester where restrictions were reimposed in June 2020, just as the rest of the country was reopening.
- And while lockdowns began to ease in early 2021, ongoing high numbers of cases in the region mean uncertainty levels here remain high, and further local restrictions can’t be ruled out.
- COVID appears to have had a bigger impact on the East Midlands in terms of the amount of time and money people reported available to them, an area which also reported more people were shielding.
- While the research suggests a fairly positive situation with engagement not dropping significantly below the UK average (despite local lockdowns), it is worth noting that there is some heightened caution around returning to events in person – fewer people in the East Midlands are ready to return than the UK average.
Impacts on Different Audiences
Research from the region suggests that the Midlands had levels of arts and cultural engagement before COVID that were consistent with the UK average; and during 2020 this dropped to a similar degree as the rest of the country.
- Inline with the UK average, 33% of people across the Midlands reporting attending any arts event since March 2020, while a similarly average 31% watched a performance online and 8% took part in an event or activity.
- Research into the pandemic’s impact on the population by Audience Spectrum segment paints a mixed picture: generally speaking, already low-engaged segments engagement dropped even further during the crisis, while the higher-engaged segments have remained engaged, either in-person or online.
- The exception here are Commuterland Culturebuffs, who make up around 17% of the population in the Midlands, but have seen a notable drop in engagement over the past couple of years, a trend which could have a significant impact if it continues in the long term.