Arts & Culture

Data analysis shows live music audiences overtaking theatre

Data-driven consultancy Data Culture Change, in partnership with Campaign for the Arts, has analysed data from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)  which shows a slowdown in the upwards trajectory in post-pandemic arts attendances.

In the three months from July to September 2022, the DCMS found that more adults in England were attending cinema screenings, live music events, festivals and carnivals, and street art events. 

However, there was not a significant increase in attendance concerning other art forms including art exhibitions, craft exhibitions, literary events, dance and theatre. 

While theatre had experienced the biggest attendance increase of any art form by the first quarter of last year, by the third quarter, its audience recovery had stalled slightly. This means that live music has now overtaken theatre as the second most poplar art form in England. 

Data Culture Change noted that the slowdown comes even though attendance of most art forms has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. By the end of September last year, the promotion of people attending dance was only 64% of the number that was recorded in official statics from 2019-20. 

Theatre attendance was at 73% compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

David Brownlee, Data Culture Change chief executive, said: “It is concerning to see audiences for several art forms tracking well behind pre-pandemic levels. For theatres, historically July and August have been the quietest months of the year. 

“It is the final quarter of the calendar year that traditionally has been financially most important. We will hope to see a substantial increase in the adult population returning in the period from October to December 2022 when DCMS release new data in the coming months.”

Jack Gamble, director of Campaign for the Arts, added: “It is very concerning to see a slowdown in returning audiences for many art forms, just as energy bills and production costs are rocketing. 

“After a decade of funding cuts and a devastating pandemic, the cultural sector simply cannot afford another crisis. This is a time to come together in support of the arts, and in defence of the benefits they provide to so many people and communities.”