#ATXTheatre Surveys Audiences; They're Not Ready to Return Yet


(via #ATXTheatre)#ATXtheatre, a collaboration of 100+ theatres in the Austin area release findings of recent survey on “How do you feel about attending the theatre?” Available for public response May 28 – June 17, the survey was created by several area live theatre venue managers and administered by the HBMG Foundation.


With current funding and the future of all theatre companies and venues at stake, the entire Austin theatre community has come together to address funding, reopening and survival in this current climate. This survey is one of the group’s efforts to help arts organizations determine how to serve the public in the best and safest way by listening to what Austin theatre audiences would need to feel comfortable coming back to attend live theatre.


Collaborator and participant, Lara Toner Haddock, Producing Artistic Director, Austin Playhouse, expands on why this survey information is important to Austin theatres. "While there are many national surveys being distributed, it is vital that we understand where Austin audiences stand on reopening and what safety procedures they need to feel comfortable returning to the theatre,” Toner Haddock expands, “I'm grateful that so many patrons took the time to share their thoughts and concerns with us as we plan for the future."


#ATXtheatre Survey Highlights:


  • 1605 people took the survey. Almost half (48%) were 60 or older.
  • Over half the respondents (54%) had watched online theatrical performances.
  • When asked when they planned to return to live performances, only 16% said they would be ready to return right away. 21% do not plan to return until there is a vaccine. The remaining respondents were not sure when they would feel comfortable returning.
  • Audience members will be looking for a variety of increased safety measures when they return. 76% will require social distancing, 79% want staff and audience to wear masks, 73% want venues to limit capacity and provide hand sanitizer, and 69% want venues to manage exit plans after performances to ensure social distancing. Only 41% would require pre-packaged food and beverage options.
  • When asked about additional safety measures not mentioned in the survey, the top response was a strong air ventilation system at indoor venues.
  • When asked what safety guidance they are following, the overwhelming majority (86%) is relying on the City of Austin for safety information. 9% stated they are guided by the State of Texas and only 3% are relying on the Federal Government for the best safety information.
  • The survey also asked theatregoers about what type of venue they would be most comfortable attending when theatres reopen. Outdoor venues led the pack with 87% of respondents saying they would be comfortable watching theatre outside. Traditional proscenium spaces received a 62% approval, non-traditional “found” spaces received 34% approval, and intimate black-box spaces only had 24% of respondents stating they would be comfortable there when theatres reopen.
  • In general, the survey was completed by regular theatregoers. About half the respondents stated they attend theatre once every two months. 37% said they attend more often and 15% attend less often.


The full #ATXtheatre survey can be found HERE.


Conclusion drawn from the survey results include Austin audiences are willing to return, but not right away. And they will require strong safety procedures to feel comfortable in any venue.


About #ATXtheatre:

#ATXtheatre is a collaboration of over 100+ theatre professionals in Austin, TX. The group has been meeting weekly since the COVID-19 crisis on many subject and issues including how arts can thrive and survive during this pandemic. #ATXtheatre is made up of various theatre disciplines from theatre organizations, venues, companies, and more. The focus of #ATXtheatre is to work with the public to revive Austin theatre in a safe and abundant way through conversation and fundraising within the community.