Press Release: Arts Response Tracking Survey (ARTS)

June 9, 2020

When are Canada’s culture goers willing to come back to the arts? 

Nanos Research, Business / Arts and National Arts Centre measure the attitudes of Canadian culture-goers in the world of Covid-19 

TORONTO – (June 9, 2020)Business / Arts, the National Arts Centre and Nanos Research have come together to gauge Canadians’ attitudes on returning to indoor and outdoor arts and culture events across Canada. Over 1,000 people were polled through the Arts Response Tracking Survey (ARTS). The results offer valuable insight for arts organizations across the country to help inform re-opening procedures and programming models. 

ARTS Key survey findings: 

For indoor cultural activities 

  • 26 per cent or one in four indoor culture-goers will attend as soon as institutions are open and following public health guidelines
  • 38 per cent of indoor culture-goers will wait 5.2 months on average
  • 35 per cent of indoor culture-goers are unsure

For outdoor cultural activities the figures are more encouraging: 

  • 39 per cent of outdoor culture-goers will attend immediately after institutions are open and following public health guidelines
  • 30 per cent of outdoor culture-goers will wait an average of five months 
  • 32 per cent of outdoor culture-goers are unsure. 

When asked specifically about returning to museums and galleries, attitudes are similar:

  • 30 per cent of art gallery and museum culture-goers will return immediately after institutions are open and following public health guidelines
  • 27 per cent of art gallery and museum culture-goers will wait an average of five months
  • 42 per cent of art gallery and museum culture-goers are unsure 
  • Here, Quebec culture-goers are outliers, with 44 percent saying they plan to attend in person immediately after businesses, government and cultural organizations are opened and following public guidelines. 

In all cases, for those willing to return immediately, the proper implementation of safety measures such as physical distancing (32 per cent for indoor performances, 47% for outdoor performances, and 45% for museums) and masks (27 per cent for indoor performances, 25% for outdoor performances, and 24% for museums ) are needed to ensure comfort.

For culture-goers who will wait to attend, a vaccine is more frequently mentioned as a precaution needed to make them feel comfortable attending in person events. 

Encouraging and of note is that in the short term, Canadian culture-goers are embracing digital as an alternative for the lack of in-person cultural experiences. 

  • 50 percent or one in two culture-goers have reported having watched a digital arts event or culture performance online or taken a virtual tour of a museum since the Covid-19 outbreak. 
  • And, just over one in ten culture-goers (13 per cent of outdoor and indoor culture goers, 14 per cent of museum culture-goers) say they are willing to pay 50 percent of a full ticket price to watch the same performance digitally online that they would currently attend in person. 

While it certainly doesn’t replace the in-person experience, these findings reveal a possible new revenue and audience building resource for Canada’s cultural organizations. 

When speaking about these findings, Nik Nanos, Chief Data Scientist and Founder, Nanos Research said,

“Culture-goers continue to be engaged with the arts and culture sector but are turning to alternative forms of engagement such as online and virtual experiences, given the lack of in-person experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Nichole Anderson Bergeron, President and CEO, Business / Arts, shared: 

“These findings will be very helpful to arts leaders as they grapple with how and when to open their doors again to the public. What’s clear from this study is that there is a segment of Canadians who would like to go back as soon as doors are open, indicating a strong desire to experience the live arts again. Arts leaders will have to weigh the balance of operating their organizations much below capacity, and therefore losing the revenue needed to run the operation, and the desire to open for the enjoyment of the public. In the meantime, it is very encouraging to see that our arts organizations have kept a strong following through their on-line offerings. Even more so, that Canadians are willing to pay for this content, since this may help alleviate some of the financial pressure our cultural organizations are facing.” 

Christopher Deacon, President and CEO, National Arts Centre, added: 

“We are pleased to partner with Business / Arts and Nanos Research to poll Canadians and share findings that will help the arts sector in its path to recovery. Canada’s arts leaders have an unshakable faith that the arts will continue to play a leading role in the lives of Canadians, now and post-pandemic. The research findings announced today provide valuable insights to the sector. It will enable smart planning and programming in performance venues, as audiences come back to experience the living arts.”

This is the first in a series known as the Arts Response Tracking Study (ARTS), a regular monitoring of the environment in the arts and culture sector during this global pandemic. 

Business / Arts and the National Arts Centre are planning at least two additional tracking surveys with Nanos Research over the next six months, with the additional support of the Canadian Opera Company and The Woodbridge Company Limited.  

Nik Nanos will discuss the findings of this first ARTS during an online session moderated by Business / Arts CEO Nichole Anderson Bergeron and featuring a national response panel that includes Christopher Deacon, President and CEO, National Arts Centre, along with arts leaders from across the country. 



Nanos Research conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,001 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between May 17th and 19th, 2020 as part of an omnibus survey. Culture-goers are Canadians who have attended indoor or outdoor cultural performances or art galleries and museums in the 12-month period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Maggie Fairs | 416-436-3659 | maggie@businessforthearts.org
Annabelle Cloutier | M: 613-301-2764 | annabelle.cloutier@nac-cna.ca

About Business / Arts 

Business / Arts is a national charitable organization that shows the power of partnership between business and arts. Our national mentorship training program artsvest has created nearly 5,000 partnerships between business and arts organizations, raising over $21M in new private sector investment. Combined with matching funds, this has led to an overall impact of $29.25M to Canada’s cultural sector. Through initiatives like the Canadian Arts Summit, we work in partnership with arts leaders, government and the business community to ensure a thriving arts and culture sector. We lead research and advocacy projects to help make the case for the arts. Our arts & business exchange initiative is focused on cultivating and inspiring the next generation of business leaders to partner with the arts. To learn more, visit: www.businessforthearts.org

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