Between 13th and 18th of May we conducted a survey to explore how attitudes and behaviours in the area of arts and culture have changed since all of the UK’s cultural venues closed their doors.

We have provided some topline findings below. If you are a cultural venue and would like a presentation of the full findings, delivered by Zoom, please send us an email HERE (The presentation is free of charge.)

 

1: Arts and culture have become more appealing to more of us as we stay at home

Arts and culture as a whole appears to be benefitting from a lack of access to other interests and pastimes. Although some people are currently spending less time pursuing their interest in arts and culture, a larger group are maintaining their previous levels of engagement.

A large number of people are spending more time than previously on arts and cultural activities.

Time that previously might have been spent accessing arts and culture physically has been spent accessing arts and culture remotely, with only a few respondents saying they have allocated this time to different pursuits. A quarter of respondents have even explored new arts and cultural activities online. 

 

2: Necessity has driven many of us to look for online arts and culture for the first time

When it comes to the consumption of arts and culture, of course there has been a huge shift to digital platforms and virtual experiences.

Over 70% of our sample had not accessed arts and cultural venues remotely before the shutdown but have done so subsequently. 

Others who had tried this method previously are continuing to do so. Only a small percentage of our sample have not accessed any arts and culture during this period through online routes. We see a doubling of numbers of those who have watched a performance (play, concert etc.) online since shutdown and the number of those who have taken a virtual tour of a gallery or museum has more than tripled.

Accessing culture online, is new for many people

 

3: And many of us have found that we quite like doing it this way

Although almost all respondents agree that experiencing culture in this way is not as good as being there in person, most feel that it is a good second choice, being considerably better than missing out completely, and in some ways rewarding and enjoyable in its own right.

Some of the things that are not missed about a first-hand live experience are the advantages of the virtual experience, most notably an absence of crowds and the removal of travel problems.

 

4: We are casting the net quite wide to find arts and culture that interest us

Our survey asked for examples of venues which have been good at adapting their usual offerings when they can’t physically open. We received a wide variety of responses and examples. Many well publicised and high-profile establishments and online events were mentioned frequently e.g. National Theatre, British Museum as well as smaller UK venues.

Many venues in mainland Europe and USA also featured, suggesting that audiences are perhaps casting the net geographically wider than they would if able to go out and see things in person.

Perhaps people are compensating for the lack of opportunity to travel by exploring more widely online?

MoMA, New York, mentioned by a number of respondents

 

5: We appreciate free content right now but we would be prepared to pay for it

The majority say that they would be prepared to pay to access good quality online / virtual content, although the availability of free content is appreciated.

There are signs that arts and cultural establishments may be able to reap financial benefits from their current activities in the future. Venues that are giving free access to their output now are not generally expected to keep doing this indefinitely and many would be prepared to pay for this later on. But there are some differences in how different types online arts and culture content are seen in terms of value and the price they could charge. Our respondents were less likely to pay for a virtual visit to a museum or gallery that charges to see its permanent collection. they would also be less likely to pay for a virtual visit to a place of historical interest. In contrast, they would be willing to pay for an online visit to a temporary exhibition or a recorded live performance. How much they would be prepared to pay again differs by the nature of the content – in most cases there is perceived ceiling of 50% of the in-person ticket price, but a play or concert may be able to command more. Establishments that have provided content for free now may benefit in other ways too, when things return to normal. Free online access to content now seems to create a predisposition to visit in the future and would not put people off paying for such a visit when it becomes possible.

 

6: We will go out and see things again when we can, but remote access will retain its appeal too

In general, there are signs that most people will go back to their old patterns of behaviour when the shutdown lifts and they can go out again.

A quarter of our respondents are planning to see and do more than they did before, making up for lost time or ‘stockpiling’ experiences perhaps? Accessing arts and culture remotely will continue to be seen favourably, now that it has been experienced during the shutdown, continuing to be a good substitute for the real thing.

 

7: We will feel better disposed to those places which offer enjoyable remote access, both now and in the future

Establishments that offer the richest remote experiences and best choice of ways to enjoy a venue or performance, even when people are visiting in person, will be seen as generally more interesting and innovative than those that continue to have, or revert to, more basic online experiences.

How generously and imaginatively arts and cultural venues have responded to the shutdown, how fully and cleverly they have allowed and encouraged their audiences to enjoy them under lockdown, and how well they embrace new ways of accessing content will potentially be a criterion used to judge them even when the crisis has lifted.

 

To arrange a Zoom presentation of the full findings please send us an email HERE