The Northern Pandemic Experience
While the deep impact of the Covid-19 crisis has been felt by arts and culture organisations and audiences nationwide, the North was perhaps been harder hit during the pandemic's peak, as stricter local lockdowns limited opportunities to resume in-person activity.
- This is reflected in lower reported levels of attendance than in less-restricted regions like London and the South East.
- Greater Manchester in particular faced increased restrictions - with bans on household mixing reimposed in summer 2020, and indoor venues forced to close again by the autumn.
- The economic impact of longer lockdowns is also evident, with people in the North West reporting their household finances were adversely affected to a greater degree than the UK average.
- Meanwhile organisations in the Merseyside and Cheshire areas, who would usually draw audiences from across the border in Wales will have been affected by the Welsh government restrictions on travel into England.
- And even once restrictions were eased, continued outbreaks in areas like Bolton, Blackburn and Kirklees meant that uncertainty levels across the region remained high far longer than in some southern areas.
Impacts on Different Audiences
Research into the pandemic’s impact on the population by Audience Spectrum segment paints a mixed picture.
- Generally speaking, low-engaged segments have seen their engagement drop further over 2020, while the higher-engaged segments have remained engaged, either in-person or online.
- The exception here are Commuterland Culturebuffs, who make up around 15% of the population in the North, but have seen a notable drop in engagement over the past year, a trend which could have a significant impact if it continues in the long term.
- On a more positive note, audiences do appear ready to return with around 61% of those surveyed in the North having either already booked or being interested in booking an in-person art or heritage event, and this is in line with the UK average.