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Audience intention research to be commissioned

Published: 27 May 2020

Photo of audience from behind with stage in the background

The impact of the pandemic on audiences for cultural activity in Scotland has been immediate and extensive. From March 2020 venues have closed their doors and planned activity including major cultural events, tours and festivals, has been postponed or cancelled. In the absence of a vaccine, there is uncertainty over when the outbreak, and measures to mitigate it, might end and this has meant production activity has been paused and organisations’ future schedules are unclear.

From early May 2020, some measures have been taken that signal the reopening of society and businesses. While we will start to see a reversal of the contraction of the economy, not all sectors will recover immediately. The likely requirement for social distancing measures will affect venue capacity and audience demand and there is likely to be a lag in bringing new content to audiences and consumer preferences may also have changed.

Recent survey research has shown that two-thirds of the UK population will feel uncomfortable going to large public gatherings, such as sports or music events, compared to how they felt before the pandemic. International research suggests that the public may be less willing to return to concert halls, performing arts and cinemas compared to visiting parks, sports venues and visitor attractions.

This picture presents serious challenges for organisations considering when to reopen venues or commit to future activity. We are therefore commissioning research to seek to answer an overarching research question: When and how will the economic recovery of creative sectors in Scotland take place? In doing so we will examine a number specific questions including:

The extent and pattern of recovery

  • When will audiences start to return to engaging with cultural activity?
  • What will be their pattern and levels of engagement?
  • Will audience engagement return to previous levels?
  • How might recovery vary between types of organisation, art form(s) types of venue and location?
  • How do audience attitudes vary across different communities, depending on demography, location or equalities or socio-economic characteristics?

Enabling audiences to return

  • What will incentivise audiences to engage with cultural activity?
  • What are the barriers to audiences returning?
  • What will be the impact of the increased prevalence and take-up of digital content?
  • How does this vary between types of organisation, art form(s), types of venue and location?
  • How does this vary across different communities, depending on demography, location or equalities or socio-economic characteristics?

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