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Audience Outlook Monitor August 2023

Aug 31, 2023

Creative Australia is working with Patternmakers and WolfBrown in 2023 to understand changes in the behaviours and sentiments of arts-goers.   

Launched in May 2020, the Audience Outlook Monitor was established to track audience sentiment in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2023, it continues to provide insight into the top trends shaping audiences today.  

Results from the August 2023 phase of data collection are now available, and key insights are outlined in a new snapshot report. The findings indicate that audiences have started attending arts and creative events more frequently, showing a strong desire for enjoyable and uplifting experiences and events featuring well-known performers and thought-provoking topics.  

However, cost-of-living pressures and financial barriers remain the primary obstacles to attendance. Other factors, such as shifting priorities and a perceived lack of appealing events, continue to impact audience participation nationwide. 

All data is available in the Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard, with results from over 103,000 responses across phases 1–8, the ‘Pulse Check’ 2022, the ‘Pulse Check’ 2023 and ‘Phase 9’ in 2023. 

Key findings from the August 2023 phase include:

  • Attendance at arts and cultural events is reaching the highest point since 2019, with frequency of attendance growing but things aren’t yet back to pre-pandemic levels. 2 in 3 audience members expect their attendance levels will stay the same in the next 12 months, amid a challenging economic outlook.

  • Financial reasons continue to be the top barrier to attendance across all age groups. However, they are most pronounced amongst under 35s, with 62% experiencing financial barriers, while only 30% of audiences over 55 are affected. The proportion is even lower looking at those aged 75+, with 24% in this group saying financial barriers have prevented them from attending as they did in the past.

  • Spending levels remain consistent with previous rounds of data collection with some audiences ‘prioritising other things’ in their life (30%). In August 2023, two-thirds (64%) of respondents spent over $50 on tickets to in-person live events and cultural events in the past fortnight – slightly higher than April 2023 (59%), but consistent with October 2022 (63%).

  • In the wake of the pandemic, audiences are in the mood for uplifting experiences. Fun, uplifting events (77%) and events with great reviews (64%) continue to appeal to the widest audiences. But there is still a large proportion (55%) who say they will be drawn to trying new things – and 44% say they will be drawn to challenging and topical programming.

  • There is a stark difference in spending habits among different cohorts. Under 35s have been looking for free/cheap things to do with only 2 in 10 spending over $100 on tickets to a recent cultural event (22%). Parents and caregivers aged 35-54 are more likely to be looking for free/cheap events compared to non-parents in this age group. Spending in 75+ audiences is on the increase with 43% spending more than $100 on tickets for recent events, up from 35% in October 2022.

  • In 2023, last-minute decision making persists, as audiences face more choices, and busier lives. Overall, the last-minute ticket buying trend prevails – with 13% of audiences reporting they booked the last event they attended on the day of the event, 22% in the week leading up to it and 15% 1-2 weeks before.

  • Audiences are tuning in online in large numbers, and 4 in 10 audiences continue to engage in online arts and culture. Among the three key segments, 58% of audiences under 35 were the most likely to say that digital experiences will play some role in their life. The proportion seeing a role for digital is smaller for parents (47%) and over 55s (50%).

  • Organisations are adapting to the new landscape in different ways, and around 4 in 10 have rebuilt their audience to 2019 levels – though many are facing similar challenges. There is no one story for how organisations are recovering their audiences after the pandemic – Some organisations are expanding their capacity or adapting their programming to reach new audiences, while others are stabilising or monitoring.

  • Karina Utomo performs in the 2019 Perth Festival production of Cat Hope’s Speechless, produced by Tura New Music. Credit: Toni Wilkinson

    Delivery partner

    Supporting partners

    List of participating organisations


    Adelaide Festival Centre

    Adelaide Fringe

    Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

    Art Gallery of Ballarat

    Arts & Cultural Exchange

    Arts and Culture Trust

    Arts Centre Melbourne

    Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

    Australian Chamber Orchestra

    Australian Theatre for Young People

    Bangarra Dance Theatre

    Bell Shakespeare

    Belvoir Street Theatre

    Bendigo Venues & Events

    Biennale of Sydney

    Black Swan State Theatre Company

    Brisbane Festival

    Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre (BREC)

    Bunjil Place

    Byron Theatre

    Canberra Theatre Centre


    Castlemaine Art Museum


    City Recital Hall

    Civic Theatre Newcastle

    Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre (COPACC)

    Country Arts SA

    Darwin Entertainment Centre

    Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention centre

    Electronic Music Conference Pty Ltd

    Empire Theatre

    Footscray Community Arts

    Forge Theatre and Arts Hub (East Gippsland Shire Council)

    Frankston Arts Centre

    Geelong Arts Centre

    Glasshouse Arts Entertainment and Conference Centre

    Hayes Theatre Co

    Ipswich Civic Centre

    Lighthouse Theatre Warrnambool

    Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre

    Melbourne International Comedy Festival

    Melbourne International Jazz Festival

    Melbourne Recital Centre

    Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

    Melbourne Theatre Company

    Merrigong Theatre Company

    Mildura Arts Centre

    Museums Victoria

    Music Victoria

    National Gallery of Australia

    National Gallery of Victoria

    National Museum of Australia

    No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability Inc

    Opera Australia

    Opera Queensland

    Orange Civic Theatre

    Penrith Performing & Visual Arts

    Percussion Australia

    Perth Festival

    Portland Arts Centre (Glenelg Shire Council)


    Queensland Ballet

    Queensland Museum Network

    Queensland Performing Arts Centre

    Queensland Symphony Orchestra

    Red Chair Pty Ltd

    Riverside Theatres & National Theatre of Parramatta | City of Parramatta

    Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre

    South Australian Museum

    Spare Parts Puppet Theatre Inc

    State Library of South Australia

    State Opera South Australia

    State Theatre Company South Australia

    SWELL Sculpture Festival

    Sydney Dance Company

    Sydney Festival

    Sydney Fringe Incorporated

    Sydney Opera House

    Sydney Philharmonia Choirs

    Sydney Theatre Company

    Sydney Writers’ Festival

    The Australian Ballet

    The Cube Wodonga

    The Events Centre, Caloundra

    The Street Theatre

    The Unconformity

    The Wheeler Centre

    Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts

    Victorian Opera

    Wangaratta Performing Arts & Convention Centre

    West Australian Ballet

    West Australian Opera

    West Australian Symphony Orchestra

    Windmill Theatre Company

    Wyndham Cultural Centre

    About the series

    The Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study supports decision-making and forward planning across the arts and cultural sector. 

    Baseline data was collected in May 2020 in a cross-sector collaborative survey process involving 159 arts and cultural organisations, including museums, galleries, performing arts organisations and festivals.   

    Launched in 2020, the Audience Outlook Monitor webinar series explores different topics within the data and digs deeper into the results with industry experts. Fact sheets on specific topics are available from 2020, 2021, 2022 and January 2023. New fact sheets will be available in August 2023.  

    The Audience Outlook Monitor tracking study was extended for a further three phases in 2023, with a new focus on cost-of-living pressures and other factors impacting on audience behaviour. The first two phases of data collection will occur in April 2023 and August 2023, and the final data will be collected in October 2023.