Research Shows How Massachusetts Audiences View Returning to Live Performances

Since June 2020, ArtsBoston has regionally led The Audience Outlook Monitor, a longitudinal survey that aims to understand arts attendees’ thoughts, concerns, and intentions surrounding the pandemic and reopening. In partnership with international arts consulting firm WolfBrown and 15 local arts organizations, the survey reached arts-goers to hear their opinions on health and safety measures, digital programming, and plans to return to live performance throughout the pandemic. The most recent results of the survey were published in June 2021 and gleaned that audience comfort levels about attending indoor events has increased significantly over the last two months.

Now, we’re sharing our top takeaways from this recent research, with the hope that you find it helpful to see how your fellow audience members are thinking as reopening continues. You may have even taken the survey yourself at some point and for that we say, thank you!

June 2021 Results

Audience Readiness to Return

73% plan to resume indoor performances by Sept 2021

(up from 60% in April; 54% ready to return by July/August)

84% plan to resume museum attendance by Sept 2021

(40% are attending now)

High Rates of Vaccination

95% partially or fully vaccinated

Vaccination rates among Black and Latino respondents differed up to 11%, with 88% of Black arts goers and 86% of Latino arts goers reporting full or partial vaccination

What Audiences Need to Feel Safe Indoors Right Now

42% mask-wearing at performances

(down from 59% in April); 50% mask-wearing at museums

31% say they would return only to performance spaces where proof of vaccination is required for entry

Hybrid Is Here For Immediate Future

73% expect access to digital performances will play a small or substantial role once live performances return (up from 66% in April)

ArtsBoston Executive Director Catherine Peterson says that it’s exciting that these results show audience vaccination rates are meeting the pent-up audience demand. “The moment we all were waiting for is here! The public health success of vaccinations comes with a strong desire to return to public activities – especially the live arts – at levels we’ve not seen since the start of the pandemic. And arts organizations are stepping up to the plate to acknowledge, protect and be sensitive to the diverse needs of the audience members who helped them through.”

Learn more about the timeline, methodology, and participating organizations in the Audience Outlook Monitor.

Header photo: Merrily We Roll Along at Huntington Theatre Company. Photo by Nile Hawver, Nile Scott Shots

Elena Morris (she/her/hers) is ArtsBoston’s Community Outreach and Marketing Manager. She is a dramaturg and arts administrator passionate about forward thinking in the arts. Elena holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University, focusing her studies on dramatic literature and movement. twitter-4-512 @elena_pearl
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