Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on cultural participation

Published: 23 Jun 2021

Creative Scotland COVID-19 Population Survey Wave 3 – May 2021

Creative Scotland today, Wednesday 23 June 2021, publishes the third wave of findings from independent research looking at the attitudes of the general population in relation to cultural participation and attendance.

This survey research, undertaken by 56 Degree Insight in May 2021, aims to better understand the Scottish population’s attitudes to attending cultural events and venues. The findings show that the desire to attend cultural events and venues remains strong. The research does, however, reinforce that parts of the creative sector may recover more slowly than other areas of the economy and public demand will vary between organisations, art forms and the venues in which work is presented:

Key Findings:

  • Over a fifth of the adult population in Scotland report that arts and culture have become more important to them since the beginning of restrictions in March 2020.
  • Throughout the pandemic, over half of Scotland’s population (57%) have consistently reported they really miss attending cultural venues and events.
  • During the pandemic most of the population have listened to music, watched films, drama or documentaries or read for pleasure. With +33% reported watching more films, drama or documentaries on streaming services, watching terrestrial, Freeview or satellite television, listening to music or reading.
  • Since November 2020 the desire to take part in all cultural activities has increased, with the public most looking forward to returning to cinema, live music and the theatre. Two-fifths of the population are already booked or planning to attend the cinema while a third are planning to attend live music. One in 8 respondents would definitely be interested in engaging with cultural events online in future.
  • 59% are very or fairly comfortable with 1m distancing with additional protection.
  • 74% are interested in attending one or more of the options for outdoor events.
  • 29% felt controls on capacity would be the most important factor when deciding whether to attend events.
  • 40% of respondents were supportive of being able to make a voluntary donation to a ‘recovery fund’ when buying tickets for cultural events and venues.

The report summarising the findings from the research can be found on the Covid-19 Population Survey: Wave 3 page.


This report sets out the findings of the third wave of the research, with fieldwork undertaken between the 7th and 17th May 2021. This wave updates our understanding of public opinion on returning to cultural activity and enables comparison to understand how attitude have changed since 2020, with geographic and demographic quota controls used to ensure that the sample was representative of the population. 1,071 interviews were conducted in the third survey wave. The findings of the first and second waves are available on the Creative Scotland website.

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at creativescotland.com. Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Media Contact

Sophie Bambrough, Media Relations & PR Officer. Sophie.Bambrough@creativescotland.com

Funding Enquiries: enquiries@creativescotland.com