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Creative Australia research into attendances and habits for music, theatre, events, festivals, reading, dance


Before the pandemic exiled concert and theatre-goers to their couches, it was not unusual for culture lover Jonathan Casson to see a show once or twice a week.

Post-COVID it’s a different story. The enforced hibernation during pandemic lockdowns has disrupted the routines and the habits of audiences across Australia, including Casson’s.

Jonathan and Judith Casson “broke the habits of a lifetime with the two-year hiatus over COVID”.Credit: Rhett Wyman

He and wife Judith take in a live show about once every month and though they remain committed supporters, last year they uncharacteristically missed the Sydney Festival altogether.

“We broke the habits of a lifetime with the two-year hiatus over COVID,” Casson says.

Australians are back attending live shows in pre-COVID numbers, seeking good times (up six points compared to 2019), friendship (up 5 points) and improvements to their mental health and well-being (up 7 points), new research has found.

But regular weekly attendance of cultural events among a dedicated band of attendees has dropped two percentage points, from 5 per cent to 3 per cent, over the last three years across all art forms – dance, theatre, live music, and literary talks – according to the landmark research prepared for Creative Australia, the rebadged Australia Council of the Arts.

The number of people attending events every few months rose from 18 per cent in 2019 to 21 per cent in 2022.

“While there’s been a shift toward attending less frequently, there has been a concurrent increase in the proportion of people who want to attend more. Cost and location continue to be the main barriers to attendance,” Creative Australia’s CEO Adrian Collette said.

More than two-thirds of Australians read for pleasure, but the pursuit has decreased since COVID, down three points to 69 per cent.

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