New research shows family audiences may be first to re-embrace culture… but the last to be considered

Family audiences: headline findings from Act 2 National Audience Survey July 2020. Indigo and the Family Arts Campaign

Families could be the saving grace the arts sector needs, “don’t ignore them”

We are very pleased to be working in Indigo to bring you new research into the attitudes and behaviours of family audiences during Covid-19.

Indigo’s recent After the Interval and Act 2 surveys asked audience members about their attitudes to missing live events during Covid-19, how they were engaging with culture during lockdown and when they anticipated returning to live events in the future.

A specific analysis of the family audiences segment suggests that families are a willing and important audience at risk of exclusion.

Uniquely, family audiences recognise the sense of urgency in providing cultural experiences for children, whose creative development is vitally important to them.

Significant findings from the study suggest:

  • Indoor social distancing is hard work for family audiences, with audiences considering it too difficult to adhere to restrictions in indoor public settings
  • But families are much comfortable than most to embrace outdoor events, even if they’ve never been to them before with 96% saying they’d be open to new outdoor offers

“I would love to see some outdoor, family-orientated, socially distanced daytime performances in the coming few months, I’d be happy to pay the same as for an indoor performance… we are fed up with screen time,” said one audience member.

  • The Christmas panto or a similar experience is very important to this audience as a tradition and way of being together. 55% of respondents already had bookings for festive performances.
  • There is an opportunity to try new ways to engage families online. Less than half of family audiences have experienced culture online, 75% are interested in trying it out in future.
  • Online activities that are activity-based (think workshop style or arts and crafts), interactive, and that they can do together, are attractive to families. Family groups were also more likely than any other audience group to pay a similar price for an online experience as a live one.
  • A third of family bookers have seen their income reduced during COVID-19, and so are particularly concerned to see refunds or credit notes being offered on future bookings.

Katy Raines, Partner and Co-Founder of Indigo said, “Our research shows that families are an engaged and receptive audience, and perhaps more willing to try (and pay for) new experiences digitally or outdoors than other audience segments. They are acutely aware of the impact of a creative void in their children’s development, and so I would urge our cultural sector to review their family offer and think creatively about how they can provide memorable, fun and safe experiences for families.”

Responding to the research Ian Woods, General Manager for Norwich Puppet Theatre commented: “Social distancing is possible in theatre spaces, but the intimacy of interaction of children’s theatre is likely to be lost in the process. We need to be aware of family audience concerns over social distancing measures and it will be very challenging to create a relaxed and non-judgemental atmosphere whilst keeping our staff and audience members safe.”

Read the headline findings in the Indigo blog, which covers five key areas to consider when welcoming back family audiences.

The findings will form the subject of a free webinar on reopening for families and a full report will be released in October.

> Read Indigo’s blog


Free Webinar

The Family Arts Campaign and Indigo will host a free webinar “Welcoming Back Family Audiences” on Tuesday 13 October in partnership with the Arts Marketing Association (AMA). Organisations and artists are invited to share learning, ideas and examples on how these findings can help welcome families back to cultural experiences. Following the webinar, a full report on family audiences during Covid-19 will be released.

> Sign up for the webinar

29 September 2020