When will you return to the arts after COVID-19?

Coronavirus closures are slowly lifting, so we asked our readers: How soon after lockdown restrictions are eased would you go to a live event?

The good news is in: restrictions across Australia are finally, if slowly lifting, with a national three-step plan in place.

The CovidSafe Australia plan announced by the Federal Government will see a gradual opening up of businesses and libraries in phase one, larger gatherings of up to 20 people in phase two (incuding cinemas and small theatres), and a move to allow for gatherings of up to 100 people and interstate travel in phase three.

Read: What ScoMo’s lifted restrictions mean for the arts sector

But what does that mean for you? In our most recent reader poll captured between 8-11 May, we asked you, our readers: How soon after lockdown restrictions are eased would you go to a live event?

Out of 635 people polled, 45.2% said they would wait a month from the time restrictions are lifted before attending a live event with 13.1% of readers stating they would only wait one week.

However, 26.9% of readers are willing to attend live events from day one of restrictions being lifted, with other respondents stating that they would wait at least two months or longer (13.1%).

One responded said: ‘I will work on events from day one, and [I] will attend them depending on the Covid-19 situation at the time. I’m excited for my industry to reopen but am concerned that if it is done too soon we will suffer even greater losses which saddens me to think about.’

Health still the top concern

We also asked respondents: Which factor would most influence your decision in attending a live event?

One respondent stated: ‘I am in the vulnerable age group so I wouldn’t go until [I am] more certain of the containment of Covid-19. I am thinking 6 months but of course it depends on what happens in Victoria where I live, in that time.’

Health concerns were a major factor for poll participants when it came to attending live events after lockdown, with nearly half of all respondents concerned for their own health and that of the wider community.

‘I feel like I will have to be responsible for my own sense of safety and can’t expect all of us to be on the same page about it,’ a respondent noted. ‘It will probably be a gradual thing and depend on the specific conditions in place at each site. Couldn’t put a date on it.’

Out of 574 total respondents to this second question, 49.1% of readers said that health concerns would most influence their decision to attend a live event so soon after the lifting of restrictions.

That said, 38.3% of readers are passionate about supporting the arts in Australia with little interest in either entertainment (5.4%) or boosting the economy (2.6%).

Other blocks to participation

The type of live event, and how many people would be attending was also a factor, with respondents echoing similar sentiments.

‘[It] depends on the event. I’d be more likely to go to an outdoor event where I can control social distancing than an indoor event with fixed seating,’ said one respondent.

Another opined: ‘Depends on the size, for large events it would be many, many months with no increase in virus cases. For smaller events where people can practice social distance it will still be a while before I feel comfortable.’

A third wrote: ‘Only after I had taken stock of all factors: venue, precautions taken by Organisation, nature of event, potential level of responsibility taken by audience etc.’

Dependable data on Covid-19 cases was another factor for this respondent: ‘When there is solid data that the curve has gone down!’

Read: ‘A breathtaking cornucopia of brilliant quotes’: Have book endorsements gone too far?

It was also noted that financial matters are a ever-deepening concern for many in the arts industry: ‘[I] have lost interest in live theatre, and [I am] uncertain what, if anything, will have financially survived the pandemic.’

Another poll respondent said they would attend live events ‘When I can afford to. Now that the arts world is mostly unemployed, many of us can’t afford to pay to attend big events for a while. Hopefully those employed in industries deemed to be “essential” will lead the ticket buying charge.’