The Audience Agency’s latest data has shown that it will be increasingly important for arts and cultural audiences to witness venues taking a stance on climate change and social justice, as part of changing behaviour patterns.
The mission-led charity’s Cultural Participation Monitor demonstrated that attitudes towards social and environmental values, tastes and experiences are changing the way audiences respond to arts and culture.
According to the Audience Agency, audiences are still feeling the effects of the pandemic, as well as the effects of social and economic change, and the digital disruption posed by AI (Artificial Intelligence).
A higher percentage of audiences would like cultural organisations to openly share values on climate and social issues. This behaviour is largely linked with younger audiences. Some 51% of respondents said they would prefer to go to cultural venues that share their values, and almost half said they would be more willing to engage with organisations that take a visible stance on social issues.
Audiences also have more eclectic and unpredictable tastes according to The Audience Agency.
Younger people are generally more tolerant of divisive behaviours at live events, though many agree some activities are off-putting such as smoking/vaping and talking on the phone. However, attendees of all ages would be more keen to attend where eating, drinking and taking photos is allowed and acceptable.
Cost-of-living fears are prevalent and are the driving factor behind declining attendance, according to the data. The existing least-engaged audiences continue to be the most affected, while settled suburban groups are less affected by the economic climate.
Overall, people are still attending arts and cultural events less often than before the pandemic (38% attending less, but only 12% more), and also not as much as 12 months ago (35% attending less and 13% attending more).
“This new evidence gives us a glimpse into the future and to what future audiences will expect from us,” said Anne Torreggiani, chief executive of The Audience Agency. “Now, more than ever, we need to understand our audiences and keep them at the heart of what we do. We need to move through these changing – and challenging – times with audiences.
“These insights point to a changed role for organisations – we need to think about amplifying our social values, becoming a community resource, being prepared to join the conversation, creating opportunities for debate. In a content rich, AI-dominated world, we need to cherish our strong relationships with audiences and ensure we create distinctive, experiential offers.”