Background Image

Audience Outlook Monitor – March 2021

The COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor aggregates survey data to assist artists and cultural organisations of all kinds to understand how audiences feel about attending events again. The survey will support artists and cultural organisations of all kinds to make the best possible decisions about re-opening.

Phase 1 to 3 of the Audience Outlook Monitor occurred in 2020. The research has been extended to continue in 2021 due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic. 


Queensland data

The March 2021 QLD Snapshot Report is based on insights over 2,600 Queensland audience members.

Key highlights

Live attendance 

  • Live attendance at cultural events is growing, as venues and facilities continue to program activities in accordance with COVID-safe regulations:In early March 2021, 7 in 10 (69%) QLD audience members said they had attended a cultural activity in-person within the past fortnight (an increase from 39% in September 2020). In terms of the types of activities engaged with, QLD audience members said they recently attended a live performance (37%), cinema (34%) or visited a museum or gallery (23%), 
  • Qld audiences are making plans to attend events in the near future: Eight in 10 (79%) QLD audience members reported they has made firm plans to attend an event in future, with most planning to attend a live performance (56%), a cinema (38%) or a museum or gallery (26%).
  • QLD audiences are making plans closer to the event date: The greatest proportion of QLD audiences are purchasing tickets for events in the month ahead. Most purchased tickets for events within the seven days after data collection (23%) or later in the month (52%), while around 1 in 3 said they were purchasing tickets for events in April (35%). 
  • Risk of lockdowns and cancellations are the main barriers inhibiting attendance: Three in 10 Queenslander indicated the risk of lockdowns and cancelled events (34%) were the main factors stopping attendance right now.
  • QLD attendees are spending more on tickets — though financial constraints are impacting attendance: One-quarter (24%) of audiences attending in the past fortnight said they spent between $50 and $100 on tickets, and 26% spent more than $100. 
  • QLD audiences are optimistic about their future spending, but have indicated that spending is unlikely to fully recover this year: Seven in 10 QLD audiences members (74%) say they expect their spending will be the same or higher than it was in the past. Over the next 12 months, QLD audiences say they expect their overall spending on arts and culture tickets, admissions, subscriptions and memberships to be lower than before the pandemic started. 


Comfort levels with returning to the arts

  • Comfort levels with most venue types in Qld is increasing: Almost all QLD audience members are confident attending museums and galleries (99% are at least somewhat comfortable), community art spaces/studios (97%, up from 89%) and large theatres or concert halls (93%, up from 71%). Comfort has also increased for venues that QLD audience members have been more cautious of in the past, including stadiums or arenas (79%, up from 55%) and comedy clubs or live music venues (59%, up from 39%). 
  • QLD audiences now feel comfortable attending most indoor venue types with limits on attendance numbers an important factor:  Capacity limits affect the viability of operation, but from an audience perspective, reduced seating capacities appear to encourage people’s perceptions of safety, for instance:
    • Almost all QLD audiences (98%) feel at least somewhat comfortable at 50% seating capacity
    • Most people (92%) feel comfortable with 75% seating capacity
    • Two-thirds (62%) feel comfortable with 100% seating capacity inside venues. 
  • Qld audience members have reported a number of safety procedures they are interested in hearing about. The most common topics that QLD audiences are interested in hearing about are check-in procedures for contact tracing (55%), social distancing requirements (51%) and the disinfection of public spaces (50%).
  • Most QLD audiences expressed satisfaction with COVID safety at cultural venues and events but there are suggested areas for improvement including:
    • ­    communication of COVID-safe arrangements capacity limits, social distancing and masks wearing in particular signage and written instructions to avoid confusion and build confidence
    • ­    inclusive methods to COVID-19 safe procedures including check in procedures without using a phone
    • ­    monitoring of COVID-19 safe practices by audience members.


Support and fundraising

  • QLD audiences feel increasingly committed to supporting the arts: The proportion of QLD audiences that said they feel strongly committed to supporting arts and cultural organisations has grown from 32% to 41% since May 2020.
  • Past attendees are subscribing or purchasing memberships in 2021: 2 in 5 (40%) said they have already purchased a subscription, membership or season tickets to a cultural organisation for the 2021 season.


Online participation

  • Queenslanders are continuing to access online data but there has been a decline: In March 2021, fewer QLD audience members reported they had recently participated in digital arts and culture experiences (42%, down from 64% in September 2020). QLD audiences are among the least engaged online nationally, along with those in SA (42%) and WA (41%) which could be attributed to the number of live events in these states compared to other states.
  • Not being able to attend in-person is a key motivator for online engagement: QLD audiences are most commonly participating online if they are seeing something you wouldn’t normally be able to see (42%) and seeing something you had wanted to see live (32%).
  • Video content remains popular: Video content of performances and events continue to be popular forms of digital participation, with 23% of QLD audiences recently watching pre-recorded video of a performance and 16% recently watching a live stream.
  • 1 in 4 QLD audience members are paying for digital experiences: The proportion of online audiences in QLD that are paying for digital content has decreased marginally in March 2021 (29%), since September 2020 (32%). Pay-per-view remains the most common form of digital patronage (14%).
  • Opportunities for online engagement: Current behaviour suggests there are opportunities in the following areas: 
    • flexible access to digital experiences for audiences who are returning to in-person events, or those who have busy schedules.
    • more immersive digital arts and culture activities that emulate the ‘liveness’ of an in-person experience.

Download the Queensland Snapshot

Queensland Snapshot Audience Outlook Monitor March 2021 (PDF) (7.62 MB)



Key national findings

The National Snapshot Report outlines key findings from the March 2021 phase of the Audience Outlook Monitor in Australia, based on 13,836 respondents

  • 7 in 10 audiences are now attending in-person and ticket sales are increasing. Due to the increasing numbers of events and outdoor programming over summer, more people said they had recently attended a cultural venue or event of some kind and are making plans to attend in future. 
  • After months of very low infection rates, confidence to attend events in person is growing stronger. The primary reason inhibiting attendance is no longer the risk of transmission, but the risk of lockdowns and cancelled events.
  • Overall, audiences are generally satisfied with most COVID-safe practices at most types of venues. However, some are concerned about inconsistency in capacity and social distancing requirements.
  • Audiences now feel comfortable with most venue types, including those where audiences were previously more cautious such as stadiums or arenas (76%, up from 53% in September 2020) and comedy clubs and live music venues (56% up from 37%). Comfort levels with large theatres or concerts halls has risen to 91% up from 67%.
  • Nearly half of all audiences continue to participate online (47%), and many plan to continue. However, some audiences are tiring of digital experiences and face barriers to online participation.
  • The proportion of users paying for online content is now 37%, comparable to levels seen in September 2020 (39%), pointing to an enduring market for premium digital experiences.
  • Looking ahead,  the outlook is positive, with 94% of audiences planning to get vaccinated, and most at least somewhat confident that the vaccination roll-out will help things return to normal within 12 months.


Download the national report

Audience Outlook Monitor Australia Snapshot Report March 2021 (PDF) (4.15 MB)

March 2021 State and Territory Snapshots

Fundraising and Support Factsheet 

Disability and Access Factsheet

Digital Engagement Factsheet


About the research

The Audience Outlook Monitor is an international study tracking how audiences feel about attending arts and culture events in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Arts Queensland is collaborating with research agencies Patternmakers (Sydney) and WolfBrown (USA) and other government art agencies across Australia to produce this resource.

Each phase involves a cross-sector collaborative survey process involving arts and culture organisations, including museums, galleries, performing arts organisations, and festivals.

 On 3 March 2021, participating organisations simultaneously sent the Phase 4 survey to a random sample of their audience – defined as those who had attended an arts or cultural event in person since January 2018.

In addition to this Snapshot Report, the March 2021 results are freely accessible in an interactive dashboard. Users can explore the data for all different artforms, types of events and demographic groups in all parts of Australia. 

For more information about the study, and to access resources such as the dashboard, visit: 

Find out more

Audience Outlook Monitor - Phase 3 (September 2020)