Arts audiences increasingly returning to events as venues reopen their doors

Cultural venues are permitted to reopen in all states and territories, except Victoria

Arts enthusiasts are increasingly returning to cultural venues as they begin to reopen, with more people purchasing show tickets, according to findings from a new survey.

The Audience Outlook Monitor survey was conducted by arts research agency Patternmakers in partnership with various state and federal government arts bodies. The findings from September come from more than 12,000 participants, who had attended an event hosted by at least one of 144 arts organisations in Australia since January 2018.

According to the results, 29 per cent of respondents attended an in-person cultural event in the past fortnight, an increase of five per cent compared to the last time the question was asked.


The results also found participants were increasingly comfortable to attend events at cultural venues, however they still preferred venues with smaller capacities. Museums, galleries and community art spaces were found to be the venues that respondents expressed the most comfort in returning to.

Face masks are a major drawcard, according to the survey, with a significant leap in support for mask-wearing at events. Unsurprisingly, the most support for mask-wearing came from Victoria and New South Wales.

“In May 2020, face masks were a polarising issue, with audiences divided on whether this measure would encourage (36 per cent) or discourage (27 per cent) them from attending cultural events,” researchers said in the report.

“Now, in September 2020, 70 per cent say they would find them encouraging, and 10 per cent discouraging, confirming widespread adoption and support of face masks in public.”

Most respondents nationwide wouldn’t feel comfortable stepping foot in a live music venue or attending an outdoor music festival with no seating. However, compared to May, the proportion of people purchasing tickets has grown by four per cent, with most of those ticket buyers planning to attend events this month.


“Whilst overall, audience sentiment is not shifting dramatically, public health measures and in particular, social distancing guidelines are helping more people feel comfortable attending cultural venues,” researchers said.

Read the survey results here.

The previous release of data was from July, prior to Melbourne returning to stage three and four restrictions. Cultural venues are permitted to reopen in all states and territories, subject to various restrictions, with the exception of Victoria.