The overall demographic of arts consumers in the US and UK seem to be changing as ticket sales plummet amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study.
The COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Insight Report for August, released by international arts management consultants TRG Arts and UK arts data specialists Purple Seven, reveals that 90 per cent fewer people have been booking tickets for the arts.
It also found that of the small numbers who are, in both the US and UK, ticket buyers are on average younger.
In the US, the proportion of subscribers who belong to the Silent Generation has decreased from 29 per cent pre-COVID to 17 per cent.
However, Millennial audiences doubled their proportional purchases from four per cent to nine per cent and Generation X has seen a significant proportional increase from 14 per cent to 21 per cent. In addition, the proportion of donor income from Millennials has tripled in FY21.
Meanwhile, changes in the ages of ticket bookers in the UK have been less dramatic, with the largest increases being from audiences aged 25-44. Prior to COVID-19, 21 per cent of the ticket booking audience in the UK was 65 or older, which has declined to 18 per cent of buyers today.
Purple Seven chief executive Stuart Nicolle, said: “These changing demographic trends are not necessarily purposeful by organisations; indeed, they are likely organic shifts in patron purchase behaviour.
“The opportunity for arts and culture organisations is to acknowledge this shift in buying trends and to consider how the product, messaging, and pricing along with the whole purchase experience and customer service meet the needs and expectations of this younger and evolving audience.”
However, TRG chief executive Jill Robinson, urges arts organisations not to let relationships fall to the wayside with patrons that have become less engaged amid the pandemic.
She said: “As we continue to ask ‘With whom will we gather?’ when the COVID pandemic passes, the prospect of an audience with a younger, more diverse average demographic is exciting. With ticket sales down 90 per cent from the same period last year, it is too early to tell, but if this trend continues as the market recovers, it will be a silver lining for the sector.
“The cautionary tale to arts organisations is not to let relationships lapse with patrons that have seen diminishing participation. The combined average value of ticket purchases and donations is far higher for older patrons, so organisations will need to balance growing younger and diverse patrons while also retaining older generations’ philanthropic support.”