Does Culture matter? - Crystallised report

This research led by marketing agency Crystallised, ran between March and July 2020 with a self-selecting group of approximately 1,000 UK participants who answered weekly questions about their views on, and relationship with arts, culture and entertainment.

Its purpose was to:

  • Understand how audiences’ relationships with arts and culture are changing;
  • Understand the importance of arts and culture in our day-to-day lives;
  • See how we can connect more broadly with a range of audiences and not-yet audiences.

You can download the full report or read the summary of their findings below.


The study aimed to hear from people with different backgrounds to ensure all cultural preferences were represented. The sample of participants showed diversity in gender, ethnicity, location, sexual identity, age, disability, cultural inclination and responsibility as a parent or carer.

Behaviours before Coronavirus

One third of respondents are what the sector would call “not culturally engaged” and hard to reach, with 11% stating they have never attended a cultural event or venue and 21% engaging less than once a year. However, the report also shows high engagement for this group in other non-traditional art forms.

Before Covid-19, audiences were largely into visiting parks, gardens, cinemas and galleries. Under-24s are 60% more likely than older age groups to visit a live music venue at least once a month. Over-35s are 20% more likely than younger age groups to visit an art gallery at least once per month.

The data also showed that people living with a disability are less likely to visit the cinema, theatre, live music venues and comedy clubs than those who don’t live with a disability.

Culture during lockdown

98% think arts and culture are essential but this percentage decreases the more funding and cost of entry is asked about. Only 47% actually want to pay for arts and culture.

During lockdown, 61% of respondents tried new cultural experiences. Audiences were more likely to try new things as a lot of barriers were removed: availability, accessibility and affordability. One third of people who had not seen theatre in at least 12 months watched online theatre at least once in the first month of UK lockdown.

Culture means different things for different people and for under-34s, its definition is much broader than for older age groups. They are more likely to be less purist about art forms and include fashion, circus, make-up artistry, tattooing, gaming and skating in cultural activities.

A large majority of people living with a disability (75%) and people of colour (62%) say they never see themselves represented on TV, in music, in a gallery, on the stage or on the catwalk.

Marketing opportunities

  • 82% say they still want to hear from organisations during the pandemic.
  • 74% say they want to hear about online activities, events or occasions they can join in with.
  • 72% say they are interested to hear what was being planned for the future.

This study also asked respondents how they were finding out about events before Coronavirus and how they would prefer to find out. The results show audiences are now increasingly relying on recommendations from trusted sources.

Data shows that attempting to monetise is particularly unwelcome unless this comes with a real value for audiences. Only 29% said they would be happy to receive fundraising asks from arts and culture organisations.

Audiences wants & needs for returning to cultural events and venues

In the short-term, audiences want to feel safe and want to see very obvious safety measures in place at events/venues. Telling and showing audiences how cultural organisations will keep them safe is a priority. The focus should be on clear communication and transparency.

Audience confidence in returning to venues or events is increasing week-by-week. Audiences are strongly preferring outdoor than indoor events.

Over three quarters of under-24s said face masks should be compulsory for all staff at all venues.

Over three quarters of all participants said the following measures are essential:

  • Contactless payments
  • Visible and increased cleaning
  • Posters and announcements on new procedures
  • Hand washing and sanitisers stations
  • Hand sanitiser disposed to every visitor on arrival
  • Compulsory social distancing at all times
  • Reducing usual capacity

What does the future hold?

In the longer-term, audiences want to keep it local as 88% say they want to see more arts and culture activities in their own neighbourhoods instead of having to travel to towns or cities for this purpose. Community and ethics are values increasingly closer to people’s hearts. They want to feel close to others and see arts and culture organisations show public leadership around important issues such as Black Lives Matter.

In the same spirit, lockdown made cultural content more accessible to many and 84% of people want to see organisations to share content online as a standard. About monetisation of digital, 77% say they would be likely or very likely to buy a monthly subscription similar to Netflix costing up to £10 per month to have exclusive access to online content like performances, events, interactive or at-home activities.

This research explored UK audiences' behaviours during lockdown, their wants and needs post-Covid and marketing opportunities for arts & culture organisations moving forward.

Crytsallised Does Culture Matter Report Digital Artwork Rgb

Download report
(PDF 3,489KB)

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