BLOG 6th October 2020

Culture Beyond Covid

Back in April, we partnered with Indigo Ltd to deliver the After the Interval Act 1 and 2 surveys in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Designed specifically for ticketed organisations who lost the majority of their income overnight, the aim of the survey was to find out how their audiences felt about returning to arts events, booking tickets, social distancing measures, outdoor events and engaging with and paying for culture online.

(You can download the final reports for Act 1 and Act 2 on our Insights page)

After the Interval has provided vital information on audiences for organisations who took part, allowing them to recognise opportunities and plan for reopening as well as informing funders and stakeholders about the trends across NI. The situation, however, remains extremely challenging and difficult to predict. Once again, we see a rise in COVID cases and new restrictions put in place. As the context changes, so do the feelings of audiences.

For this reason, we want to continue our research with audiences, expanding it to more parts of the cultural sector. Our new research project Culture Beyond Covid will include ticketed and non-ticketed cultural and heritage organisations, thanks to funding from both Arts Council NI Organisation Emergency Programme and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

What is Culture Beyond Covid?

Culture Beyond Covid is a free survey for organisations to use to get insight directly from their audiences and see what the bigger trends are across NI. It is almost impossible to plan for the next few month, but having some concrete information from your audiences is the best place to start.

Culture Beyond Covid aims to do three things to support the NI arts, culture and heritage sectors:

  • Keep a dialogue going with audiences and visitors as COVID and its implications on people’s lives and cultural behaviours continues to change;
  • Offer free surveys to all cultural organisations including those in the arts and heritage sectors;
  • Create shared insight from the survey responses to support individual organisations, collaborative approaches and inform stakeholders.

The first instalment of Culture Beyond Covid took place between 4th and 28th September. It was aimed to hep NI visual arts galleries learn about their own audiences’ views about coming back, what they’ve been doing over lockdown and what they’ll feel comfortable doing in the future. Your can download insights for free via our Insights page.

The second instalment is for ticketed and non-ticketed organisations. Whether you’re a festival, a production company or a venue, this survey is for you. It opens on 14th October and will be running until 4th November. It is designed to find out about your audiences’ cultural behaviour – why and how they engage with culture, how their cultural engagement has changed since COVID, including questions about digital, paying for online content and what they’ve been up to.

The final instalment is for heritage organisations including museums and galleries. It will open on 16th November.

How does it work?

Participating organisations will be given their own survey link which can be distributed through mailing lists and social media channels. They will be able to see the results as they come in and identify differences between their individual audiences and what’s happening across NI audiences.

Why should you take part?

Organisations involved in After the Interval told us how beneficial the insights they’ve acquired have been. Here are some of their thoughts:


“After the Interval gave us lots of useful insights into when people would feel comfortable returning, with what measures in place and what we could do to reassure them of the MAC’s status as a Covid-secure venue.” The MAC

“We were delighted to take part in the survey and found the experience positive and useful.”Open House Festival

“I found the After the Interval REALLY useful. Why? First, somebody else had thought about the questions to ask and the right way of asking them and how to measure responses - that saved me LOTS of time and effort! Second, it was very interesting to be able to compare our results against the region and nation. Fascinating to see how much we have in common but where we differ too. Third, it was a great way to connect with our audiences, let them know we care what they think and then - by following up - that we act on it. Fourth, it provided very useful data for evidencing funding applications (which is basically my whole life now).” – Portico of Ards

How to take part?

It is free to take part and you can join at any time. The earlier you do, the more responses and insights you will get.

If you're interested in getting involved, please email our Client Executive Claire Rose Canavan who will assist you for an easy set up.


'Culture beyond Covid' is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's Organisations Emergency Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


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