Nothing beats the live experience

July 2023

Cultural Participation Monitor Wave 9 | Summer 2023

This research is from The Audience Agency's nationwide longitudinal (ongoing) panel survey of changing views about participating in creative and cultural activities through the recent and ongoing crises, and beyond, the Cultural Participation Monitor.


While attending 'live' cultural events in person is everyone's strong preference, when it comes to alternative modes of engagement, watching from home, either streaming online or on TV, appeals more to all groups than doing so at the cinema, though both options are more popular among younger audiences.

Modes of Engagement

Across all artforms, ages and Audience Spectrum groups, people prefer to consume their arts and culture events live and in-person, followed by home (online/on TV) and then cinema screenings least.

The cost-of-living likely plays a part here, with people feeling like, if they can't be fully immersed in the live events, then they'd rather just watch from home via one of their subscriptions, than pay for a middle-ground experience in the cinema.

Percentage response to the question "Do the following art forms appeal to you when watching them live, via a cinema screening or at home", showing a preference for live across the board.
Figure 1: Artform appeal by live, cinema screening and home (online / on TV)

A slightly more nuanced picture appears when we break responses down by age:

  • People under the age of 45 are significantly more interested in both home and cinema viewings than their older counterparts, especially if the entertainment has a musical component or feels contemporary.
Figure 2: Artform appeal live, cinema and at home by age
Figure 2: Artform appeal live, cinema and at home by age

Experiential Preferences

A couple of other interesting points emerged from the data about why, where, how and with whom people like to consume their culture. Age, as we are seeing across all aspects of engagement, plays a very significant role here:

Young people are much more likely to say they want to attend events with similar aged people
Figure 3: Strongly agree or agree that they want to attend events with similar aged people by age group
  • 59% of those aged 16-24 say that they would rather attend live cultural events with similar aged people, a preferential distinction that steadily declines as age increases.
  • Similarly, 41% of those aged 16-24 want to be an active participant in how they interact with culture, which also steadily declines as age increases.
  • This is especially interesting in the context of younger audiences being far more relaxed about traditionally divisive audience behaviours, as it suggests something of a disconnect between older audiences' perceived desire to attend with a broad range of people, and their lack of tolerance for the changing ways in which that wider cohort wants to be able to participate.

How people perceive themselves and their relationship with creativity doesn't always correlate with how actively engaged they are with formal arts and culture.

Metroculturals agree with both these statements to a similar degree, unlike other segments
Figure 5: Percentage who agree with statements "I see myself as a creative person" and "Arts and culture is an important part of who I am" by Audience Spectrum Segments
  • Cultural super engagers, Metroculturals, are the only Audience Spectrum group whose sense that "art and culture is an important part of who I am" is greater than their self-identification as a 'creative person' - although both are strongly held beliefs by this culture-centric segment.
  • Experience Seekers, Supported Communities and Kaleidoscope Creativity meanwhile all stand out as particularly agreeing with the statement "I see myself as a creative person", despite the latter two having the lowest engagement levels with traditional culture.
  • And Kaleidoscope Creativity in particular stand out as the group most open to and keen for audience participation to be welcomed at an event, which opens up a clear potential pathway through which to access these traditionally low engaged communities.

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