CircuitWest: 2023 Performing Arts Audience Research

CircuitWest: 2023 Performing Arts Audience Research

CircuitWest is a peak body and performing arts support organisation in Western Australia. The not-for-profit organisation is membership based and represents nearly 100 artists, producers and presenters.

Across its varied programs and activities, CircuitWest seeks to demonstrate its alignment to government investment and policy criteria and to provide services that meaningfully grow and support the West Australian arts and cultural ecology.


In late 2022, CircuitWest engaged Culture Counts to conduct research into performing arts audience attendance in Western Australia, and to gain insight into arts and culture motivators, barriers and behaviours at a population level.

The CircuitWest Audience Research Project was undertaken in collaboration with a cohort of WA-based performing arts organisations who were looking to understand how audience behaviour may have changed in recent years. The cohort included FRINGE WORLD Festival, Perth Festival, Black Swan State Theatre Company, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, The Blue Room Theatre and Barking Gecko Theatre.

In planning the research, considerations were given to other research initiatives, including the Audience Outlook Monitor, the WA Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries’ Arts & Culture Monitor, Australia Council’s National Arts Participation Survey, and the National Endowment for the Arts General Social Survey.

The individual results for members of the research cohort were shared in January 2023. This public release represents the aggregate and anonymised analysis of the data, along with key insights that came out of further discussion and analysis, as motivated by the cohort.

Overall Findings

In December 2022, a survey was distributed to a panel that sought to represent the population of Western Australia. Collecting 908 responses, the headline findings of the survey are presented here.

Key Insights

The report dives deeper into the data collected to compare with other data sources. The driving question the research cohort wanted to ask was ‘where are our audiences?’ This report seeks to provide a short summary of the six core findings to answer that question. A selection of three of those insights are presented here.

The general population would like to increase their level of attendance at live events.
Overall the population is more interested in attending events than prior to COVID-19. 54% respondents agreed they would ideally like to attend more live performing arts and cultural events (2022), in comparison to 42% (2019).

Respondents were asked the following question: ‘Regarding your attendance at live performing arts and cultural events over the past 12 months, which of these statements best applies to you?

Reasons to attend haven’t changed significantly at a population level.
When asking the population for their reasons to attend arts and cultural events, only minor difference in results are seen between 2019 and 2022. Overall, ‘to have fun/to be entertained’ was the top reason for respondents; this was the most popular reason select in 2019 and remained the most popular reason in 2022.

Respondents were asked the following question: ‘There are many reasons why people may attend creative, cultural and arts events. Which of the following reasons apply to you?

Infrequent arts attendees make up the majority of the population, yet only a minority of ticket sales.
Even minor changes recorded at the population level could still result in major effects to overall ticket sales for organisations. Overall, infrequent event attendees (which make up 76% of the population) could represent 37% of a typical arts organisation’s ticket sales. This is compared to frequent event attendees (7% of the population) who could represent 31% of a typical arts organisation’s ticket sales.

Culture Counts surveyed a selection of ticket buyers from an organisation over the past three years and asked about their recent attendance at arts and cultural events.

The research identifies new opportunities for analysis of national participation data, with a view to identify key-factors of engagement, particularly population motivations for attendance, and suggests that such analysis can support arts and cultural organisations to improve their understanding of audiences and their attendance behaviour.

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Banner image: Audience at Briefs – Dirty Laundry, at FRINGE WORLD Festival 2023. Photo by Ven Tithing.

About the author
Jordan Gibbs is a Product Director for Culture Counts.