Social issues and climate concerns matter to audiences

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.



People (especially younger ones and better off families) say that they care whether venues share their own social and environmental values - particularly when it comes to the Climate Crisis - and that they are more likely to attend if organisations take an active stance on these issues.

Overall Attitudes

We asked respondents how far they agree with two key statements:

  • "I prefer to go to cultural events at venues which I know share my values"
  • "Venues should take a stance on climate change and/or social issues"

51% of respondents say that they would generally prefer to go to cultural venues that share their values, while almost half are more actively willing to engage with organisations that take a visible stance on Social Issues - even more so specifically regarding the Climate Crisis.

  • Though on the surface 51% seems like a close run thing, in reality far more agreed that whether organisations share their own values is a positive driving attendance factor for them, than those who disagreed:
Bar chart showing Metroculturals have the highest agreement, followed by Supported Communities, with Dormitory Dependables being the lowest
Figure 1: Agreement with Climate and Social Value Statements by Audience Spectrum

Breaking that down a little, we see that this holds true across all venue types, again, more so regarding the Climate Crisis, than broader Social Issues:

I agree

Younger Audiences

Age appears to have the biggest influence on respondents’ attitudes around climate and/or social issues, with younger (Gen Z and Millenial) people caring far more about these factors than older ones (Gen X and Baby Boomers).

More under 45s strongly agree with Climate and Social Value statements than over 45s
Figure 2: Difference in Agreement with Climate and Social Value Statements between over and under 45s

Indeed, over 60% of younger audiences (16-44) state that they prefer to go to cultural events at venues that share their values.

  • This breaks down to 65% of 16–24 year-olds agreeing with this statement, and 61% of 25-44 year-olds doing so.
  • Moreover, c. 55% of these younger groups feel it is important that those venues actually take a stance on Climate Change, and c. 60% on broader Social Issues.
  • Looking more closely at these younger groups, roughly broken down into Generations Z (16-24) vs Millenials (25-44), we see that that Social Issues actually emerge as being fractionally even more important to the younger generation than the Climate Crisis:
table as image

Audience Spectrum Segments

The extent to which people care if an organisation expresses a stance on these values is not necessarily commensurate with their general level of cultural engagement. In fact, it polarises at the top and bottom ends of that spectrum.

Experience Seekers, Metroculturals and Kaleidoscope Creativity have the strongest preferences for going to cultural events which share their values, with Dormitory Dependables having the least
Figure 3: Preference for going to cultural events at venues which share values by Audience Spectrum

For example, of all the segments...

  • Experience Seekers (Highly Culturally Engaged) rank here 1/10 in most commonly strongly agreeing both that they prefer organisations to share their climate and social values, and to actively express them,
  • Followed by Kaleidoscope Creativity (Low Culturally Engaged) ranking here very highly at 3/10 in values-driven concern,
  • While the largest population group Dormitory Dependables (Medium Culturally Engaged) ranks here 10/10 with the lowest interest in value alignment of any Audience Spectrum segment.

That said,

  • Most Audience Spectrum groups are more likely than not to agree that organisations' climate/social positions matter to them to some extent.
  • Although three groups in particular (who collectively account for almost half - 45% - of the UK population) are more inclined than others to disagree that this matters to them at all, these being: Dormitory Dependables, Home & Heritage, and Commuterland Culturebuffs.

Finance and Families

Finances have an influence on whether people prefer to attend venues that share their specific values, with better-off families more likely to take this into consideration:

  • Whilst, overall, 43% of respondents strongly agree that they are attracted to venues that express simpatico social and climate statements, this picture changes when we factor in people's financial and familial status.
Figure 4: Agreement that venues should take a stance on climate change and social issues by families vs. non-families
Better off financially are more strongly inclined to agree than Worse off financially or about the same
Figure 5: Agreement that venues should take a stance on climate change and social issues by financial status
  • Respondents with dependent children are far more likely to be concerned with how venues align with and express their social and climate values, than people who don't have kids at home.
  • And generally the better off people are financially, the more inclined they are to take whether or not venues have taken a stance on these issues into account when considering whether or not to attend.

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