Survey gauges audiences when Covid crisis ends

Richard Lutz looks at a study that reveals how audiences are reacting to lockdown and beyond.




The theatres are dark, the music venues are shut. The bar is down at the pub. Ghosts walk the aisles of the dance studios. As one punter said: “My rubbish bins go out more than I do.”

Now a new survey, masterminded by a Birmingham company, has analysed how potential audiences are reacting to the Covid crisis and a return to live events.

Indigo Ltd surveyed 86,000 people around the UK. Close to 200 arts venues participated. In the West Midlands this included, among others, Birmingham Hippodrome, The Rep, Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Belgrade in Coventry, MAC and Warwick Arts Centre.

The survey, called After the Interval, took place from mid-April to 6th May, and the findings are voluminous. Major findings show that 40% of the respondents won’t book for nights out scheduled before November; only 17% are still actively booking tickets (which infers 83% are not booking); 75% would feel safer if there was social distancing at re-opened halls or theatres but, three=quarters are keen to get back to live events.

Tellingly, only 2% of the respondents were between the ages of 15 and 24. Thirty per cent were above 65.

Four out of five taking part in the Indigo survey thought it was crucial that there should be a full refund if an event was cancelled. The same majority backed any plan for cultural charities asking for voluntary donations towards a recovery fund as part of a ticket price. 

Katy Raines, the report author and co-founder of Indigo, said: “It’s clear that audiences have great affinity for the cultural organisations they usually attend and are itching to get back to the buzz of live performances.”

“But,” she added, “they will need reassurances that they and the artists will be safe before they do so. Simply seeing venues re-open, and even seeing others attend, will not be enough on its own.”

The full report can be seen at: