Arts and performance boosts hospitality


24th March, 2021

The Arts Effect: data shows live arts lifts hospitality

A recent survey, including MYOB anonymised small business data, indicates the return of live arts and entertainment will have significant knock-on benefits for hospitality.

As Australia closed its borders and lockdown restrictions began rolling out over 12 months ago, one of the industries most immediately impacted was the arts and entertainment sector.

Performers cancelled live shows and events, or rain-checked them indefinitely. And while many performers and their businesses quickly turned to online alternatives, nothing has managed to fully replace the appeal of live events.

As a result, this sector 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 percent in weekly deposits during the first week of April, compared to pre-COVID baseline transactions.

Survey data reveals link between hospitality and arts

According to a recent survey of over 3,000 Australian consumers conducted by MYOB and announced in conjunction with the opening of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of us missed going to live arts events during lockdowns.

And some missed live events so much so that 41 percent plan on attending even more live performances than they had before the pandemic.

As Australia begins moving towards a post-pandemic outlook, is this industry expecting a boost, and will there be knock-on effects for the hospitality industry? The data suggests so.

Key insights from The Australia Institute survey:

  • 50% of survey respondents said they would attend events in the CBD, with 44% saying the arts was their major reason for visiting the city
  • 30% plan to attend live events monthly
  • Almost half (49%) said they’d eat a meal from a café or restaurant before or after an event such as the cinema, live music, comedy or theatre
  • 60% spend between $51-$200 per head on a night out, excluding the 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, MYOB’s head of marketing and direct sales.

Online can’t fill gap left by live options

As it stands, it seems there’s plenty to be gained with a return to live arts and entertainment in 2021. But with so many performers having pivoted into online media, it seems unlikely that digital options will disappear overnight.

According to the survey, 52 percent of consumers said they liked having more performances available online — a number that increases to almost 70 percent in the ages 18-24 bracket.

“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,” Betschel said.

When given the option, 60 percent of people would rather attend live performances than watch online, the survey found.

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

Supporting the performing arts online:

  • In supporting the arts under COVID restrictions, 21% of respondents paid more for content via online platforms
  • 20% shared social media posts and activity specifically in support of the industry
  • 14% paid for online performances, a further 14% bought 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,” Betschel said.