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Covid-19 Audience Outlook Monitor Study Extended

Second Phase of Research will Focus on Tracking Success with Vaccination and Readiness to Return to Live Programs, in Preparation for Reopening

Today, WolfBrown announced the second phase of the Covid-19 Audience Outlook Monitor study, launching in January 2021. Many of the same organizations that participated in the first phase of research will continue on in this second phase. In addition, a small number of new, disciplinary cohorts will be launched in order to maximize field learning around research findings. More specific information about participating cohorts will be announced over the coming weeks.

In addition to cohort participation, WolfBrown will open the study to a limited number of individual organizations.

The Covid-19 Audience Outlook Monitor study launched in April 2020 with the goal of providing arts and cultural organizations with timely information on audience attitudes about returning to live programs. The project represented a radical departure in how the cultural sector accesses, and learns from, market research. Between May and December, 2020, nearly 600 organizations in four countries distributed the survey to their visitors and audiences on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Results were immediately available to participating organizations through WolfBrown’s proprietary dashboard. An ongoing conversation about the results continues on the study website,

Organizations used the information to calibrate their expectations for demand for live programs, gauge likely compliance with health safety protocols once venues are allowed to re-open, and understand more about audience concerns. The initial study also explored the emerging marketplace for digital content.

Results from the from the study were used to advocate for the “Save Our Stages” legislation, and were cited by arts leaders in the US, Australia, and Norway as important input to policy decisions.

“Credit for the success of the Audience Outlook Monitor belongs to our many regional and disciplinary partners – foundations, service organizations and government agencies – who made it possible for individual organizations to join the study at little or no cost, and to the many individual organizations who self-funded their own participation in the study,” said Alan Brown, principal of WolfBrown. “Our goal was to make high quality research accessible to many more organizations than would normally be able to participate in such a study. The fact that so many partners signed on to the study demonstrates that the time has come for a more equitable approach to learning through research.”

In light of the recent roll-out of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines and the likely roll-out of additional vaccines, as well as potential improvements in testing and treatment over the next year, the second phase of the study will focus on monitoring:

  • audiences’ experience with vaccination;

  • attitudes about vaccination amongst those who’ve not yet been vaccinated;

  • readiness to return to live events post-vaccination; and

  • demand for digital programming.

“Our focus for 2021 will be supporting the efforts of arts and cultural organizations to advocate for re-opening, communicate with their constituents about progress with vaccination in order to restore confidence in live events, and set expectations for health safety measures that will still be required once venues are re-opened. Overall, our goal is to help organizations reduce some of the uncertainties around reopening,” said Brown.

Qualitative data from the thousands of audience surveys was analyzed in recent months. Those findings, along with results from qualitative focus groups, will be available in this second phase of research, allowing for deeper dives into topics arising from the quantitative results. Protocols and guidelines for conducting focus groups will be available for free from the study website, as well as online training videos and seminars to reflect on focus group data. Surale Phillips joined the study team in September to facilitate qualitative research efforts.

Throughout 2021 WolfBrown will continue to publish results, both in written and video formats, and explore specific topics through free webinars. Sign up for email updates, or follow WolfBrown on Facebook.

Individual organizations who are interested in participating in the study should contact Alan Kline, Director, Audience Research Program, at to request detailed information.


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