Audiences Enjoy Themselves Again As the Arts Reopen
Boston audiences who recently attended indoor and outdoor performances, or visited a museum or gallery, reported being comfortable with the experience, ranking their visits as “4 out of 5” or higher, according to the latest results of ArtsBoston’s Audience Outlook Monitor.
Fifty percent (50%) of respondents who attended cultural activities in mid-September went to outdoor performances; 50% went to indoor events. All were asked to rank their comfort levels from 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all comfortable” and 5 being “very comfortable.” Those who attended outdoor performances, as well as museum and gallery visitors ranked themselves at an average of 4.3. Those who went indoors ranked the experience at 4. Only 4% of indoor attendees and 1% of outdoor attendees/museum goers ranked their experience below a 3.
When asked whether the required safety protocols interfered with their enjoyment of indoor artistic programs, 68% of participants said “not at all,” while 18% said “a little.” Mask-wearing during performances was cited most frequently as an inconvenience. At outdoor events, 82% of attendees said protocols did not hinder their enjoyment, while only 8% said “a little.”
Vaccination rates are at 99% for arts goers generally in Greater Boston, underscoring the relative safety of returning to arts programming and the chances encountering unvaccinated seat neighbors is almost nil. The growing number of vaccination mandates at regional theatres and other cultural facilities, combined with required masking at indoor events — which public health officials say provides a high level of protection against infrequent breakthrough infections — theatres are among the least risky places people can gather.
“This recent survey shows that people’s fear of having their arts experiences tainted by safety protocols hasn’t come to pass,” says ArtsBoston Executive Director Catherine Peterson. “Instead, people are really enjoying themselves, as well as the music, theater, dance and visual arts they’ve been so eager to return to. I’m encouraged that people’s support for the arts in Greater Boston hasn’t waned despite COVID shutdowns over the past 18 months. There’s nothing like live performances and seeing art in person.”
Photo courtesy of American Repertory Theater. Anthony Morigerato, Amanda Castro, Ayodele Casel, John Manzari, and Kurt Csolak in Ayodele Casel: Chasing Magic. Photo: Liza Voll