Covid-19 Cultural Participation Monitor: December 2020

< Back to search

Covid-19 Cultural Participation Monitor: December 2020

© Photo: Vera Davidova, Unsplash

By The Audience Agency


This report from The Audience Agency shares findings from a nationwide survey on the public’s views about participating in creative and cultural activities through the pandemic. It is part of a wider national research programme that is building a robust and in-depth picture of the impacts of Covid-19 on the UK’s cultural sector.

The Covid-19 Cultural Participation Monitor is a new regular research survey managed by The Audience Agency that samples thousands of people from all UK regions and walks of life, adding much needed insight about the wider public's changing views on participating in creative and cultural activities through the pandemic.

It will take place in several waves so that changes in attitudes, behaviours and intentions can to be plotted accurately as the crisis evolves. We will be regularly publishing short digests of new findings from the survey.

December 2020 findings show that:

Younger people are much more confident about returning to venues

  • 27% of under 24s have booked or organised something over the next couple of months versus 8% of over 45s.
  • 19% of under 24s said: "I am happy to attend right now if there was something I wanted to see or do", versus 6% of over 65s.

There is a significant difference in people’s “readiness to return” between regions and nations

  • Around 70% of Londoners were confident about booking ahead, compared just over 50% in Wales at the other extreme.

People want to know they can get a refund

  • A clear refund policy and information about safety measures before booking were the two most important factors to encourage the decision to reattend.
  • Different types of audience had strongly different reactions to the whole range of measures, however: urban/metropolitan, highly-engaged and contemporary groups were less concerned across the board; older, rural and traditional groups were more concerned.

Cultural engagement differs across race and ethnicities

  • People identifying as Black or Asian are engaging with online culture relatively more than at physical venues – and in similar or larger proportions than those identifying as white.
  • While 16% of white interviewees had watched a streamed play, 21% of Asian and 20% of Black respondents had done so.

Online cultural consumption has increased in people identifying as having a limiting disability or condition

  • People identifying as having a limiting disability or condition 19% had watched a streamed play, compared to 16% of those who do not.
  • Slightly higher proportion non-disabled persons had been to some form of arts/heritage venue (35%) compared to those with a disability (32%)

“These initial research findings are thought-provoking and at first glimpse we can already see that the pandemic is breaking down barriers to cultural engagement for some people but raising them for others. We can also see who is most likely to start buying tickets soonest and who wants to keep donating.

In other words, we can already see that this major study will provide information vital to the sector in steering through the crisis. The information will inform good business decisions AND help organisations respond to the very real needs of the wider public for creativity and entertainment."
Anne Torreggiani, CEO of The Audience Agency

This report is part of a wider research programme led by the Centre for Cultural Value in collaboration with the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and The Audience Agency. This project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through UK Research and Innovation’s COVID-19 rapid rolling call.

Published: 2020
Resource type: Research