The Arts Effect: live arts lifts hospitality

31 Mar 2021

Sixty-four per cent of Australians missed going to live arts events during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and 41% anticipate attending more live performances than they did pre-COVID, according to fresh research from MYOB.

The survey of 3,000+ Australian consumers found almost half (49%) would eat a meal from a café or restaurant before or after an event such as the cinema, live music, comedy or theatre, highlighting the positive ripple effect from the arts to other sectors of the economy. Sixty per cent spend between $51-$200 per head on a night out, excluding their ticket price.

“In normal times, the arts industry provides a significant flow-on effect to the economy, with hospitality particularly benefitting from patrons bookending a day or a night out with meals or drinks,” said Jane Betschel, Head of Marketing and Direct Sales, MYOB.

Fifty per cent would attend events in the central business district (CBD) and 44% said the arts are their main reason to visit the CBD. Thirty per cent of respondents plan to attend arts events monthly, while not back to pre-COVID levels of attendance as yet, this will be welcome news for Australian CBDs.

The arts and entertainment sector contributes $14.7 billion per year the Australia’s GDP and employs 193,000. [1] This was one of the hardest hit industries in 2020, with MYOB anonymised small business customer data showing Arts and Recreation services saw a decline of 35.3% in weekly deposits during the first week of April, compared to pre-COVID baseline transactions. [2] Many artists delivered content or shows online for the first time, proving a hit with younger audiences in particular.

Fifty-two per cent of survey respondents said they like having more performances available online, rising to 69% for 18–24-year-olds. Despite that number, given the option, 60% would rather attend live performances than watch online.

“The pandemic provided audiences with more choice in how they consume entertainment. While some embraced having online options, there are certainly a significant cohort who are looking forward to getting back to live performances,” Ms. Betschel said.

“Having more available online may have contributed to changing consumer behaviour, with online entertainment the only option for many Australians last year.”

During COVID restrictions, to support the arts, a fifth (21%) paid more for content via YouTube, iTunes or streaming services, 20% shared social media posts and activity, while 14% showed their support by paying for online performances and a further 14% brought merch or other goods for sale.

“One positive from the pandemic is that a lot of consumers realised the value of the arts industry and really missed it when it was taken away,” Ms. Betschel said.

Thirty-five per cent plan to spend more on arts events following the pandemic, 86% of those will do so purely to support the arts industry.

After a difficult year local performers may also get a boost with 57% saying the pandemic would make them consider supporting local artists more in the future over international acts.


For further comment or other information please contact:

Selina Ife, Communications Consultant, MYOB

About MYOB

MYOB is a leading business platform with a purpose of helping more businesses in Australia and New Zealand start, survive and succeed. MYOB delivers end-to-end business management tools and accounting solutions for SMEs and the mid-market, direct to businesses, as well as a network of accountants, bookkeepers and consultants. MYOB operates across four key segments: Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), Enterprise, Financial Services and Practice. For more information visit or follow @MYOB on Twitter.

[1] The Australia Institute
[2] MYOB anonymised data