Outdoor Arts Audience Survey Final Report back to listing

The #GettingBackOutdoors Survey was commissioned from Indigo by OutdoorArtsUK, as a free national online survey to capture audience views on returning to Outdoor Arts events post-lockdown.


Getting Back Outdoors – Sep 2020

The survey sought to expand on the data collected by Indigo in After the Interval: Act 2 and gather audience’s views on their desire to attend street, rural and countryside festivals, carnivals, melas and community events in the future and what some of the barriers to attendance might be.

The survey ran from 6 July – 21 August during a time which saw UK lockdown rules ease, more of the economy opening up and warmer weather encouraging people to venture outdoors again. This also coincided with the announcement on 9 July from the Culture Secretary that outdoor performances could begin taking place from as early as 11 July as part of the government’s Roadmap to Recovery.

This news saw the first steps of Outdoor Arts activity, with Bash Street Theatre being one of the first outdoor companies to present work again: ‘The Strongman’ took place at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall on 31 July; being a family company, they were able to rehearse in careful isolation.

There was an initial rush of events and festivals moving online – The Festival of Thrift was upcycled for the internet, Hull Freedom Festival was presented “At Home” and Murmuration Arts’ social dances became a virtual series of events. But there was a variety of responsive and adaptable shows and festivals which took place live – early examples included Matt Pang’s mobile ‘Happy Heart Bike’, The Bristol Coddywomple – which brought street performance to doorsteps across Bristol and Markmark Productions socially distanced walkabout.

An app-based live performance, ‘c-o-n-t-a-c-t’, arrived in London from France at the end of August and Greenwich+Docklands International Festival brought Ray Lee’s musical installations, Walk the Plank’s ‘Fire Garden’, plus dance, circus and theatre performances from Mimbre, Company Chameleon, Told by an Idiot, Upswing, Humanhood and many others, to various venues across East London with a focus on local engagement.

Gobbledegook Theatre’s ‘Cloudscapes’ continues to appear in both live and online iterations, Scoot Theatre adapted ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to tour to cricket grounds, Brighton Open Air Theatre reopened with a comprehensive programme and The Fabularium’s singing animals headed to Ulverston for their first performance of the year.

All of these artists adapted their work in some way to respond to the pandemic and worked with festivals, local authorities and producers to bring these works safely back to our streets and public spaces, with careful consideration for artists, staff, volunteers and audiences.

It is worth noting that the gathering of this data and completion of this report was written before 14 September, the date that ‘The Rule of Six’ came into law. At time of writing it is not yet understood how this law will affect Outdoor Arts events.