The cost-of-living crisis is starting to impact people's willingness or ability to spend on arts and culture

April 2022

Cultural Participation MonitorWave 6 | Spring 2022

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.


The cost of living crisis is emerging as a predictable barrier to engagement, and is particularly likely to affect frequency of attendance (more than spend per attendance - though increased prices would act as a further deterrent).

Groups that are particularly likely to expect to be worse off include:

  • those with depression/anxiety (59%),
  • those who are neurodiverse (47%),
  • those working in 'lower supervisory and technical occupations’ (46%),
  • disabled people (45%),
  • Frontline Families (44%),
  • those with dependent children (42%),
  • and those living in the most deprived quartile of areas (40%).
Figure 1. Donut chart of financial situation compared to the year before the pandemic, better/worse off or the same.

Impact on entertainment and leisure spend

People are split on what they expect to spend on entertainment/leisure, as a third say it will decrease a little/a lot but over a quarter say it will increase.

  • Overall, the proportion expecting to spend less is 6 percentage points higher than the proportion expecting to spend more.
  • This is lower than the net 16 percentage points who expect to be worse off, suggesting that entertainment/leisure spend may not reduce for as many people as the wider financial situation would imply.
Figure 2. Donut chart of respondent's financial approach to lower cultural engagement in the future.
  • When those who said that they would reduce spending were asked about how they would do so, over half of people said they will both do things less often and spend less each time (56%).
  • Looking at those who said they would either decrease frequency or spend each time, more expected to reduce the former than the latter (25% compared to 12%).

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