One in four Brits back in concert halls by the end of June

An image of the RPO at Cadogan Hall

One in four adults wants to be back in a concert hall by the end of June - and 39% say they will be ready for a return to live music by September - according to new research from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO).

In a week that has seen Coronavirus restrictions ease, the RPO returning to the concert hall and people enjoying live music in person for the first time since December 2020, the new RPO research gives a clear indication that after an unprecedented year for the arts – with the future of live music and performance  venues in the balance – many people are gearing up for a return to the concert hall and, importantly, regard it to now be a safe cultural activity.

The nationally representative poll asked more than 2,000 adults when they would feel comfortable re-engaging with a range of cultural activities:

  • More than one in four respondents said they would feel comfortable returning to theatres (28%) and concert halls (26%) by the end of June. Overall, more people were comfortable returning to these events than football matches (23%) or nightclubs (20%)
  • In terms of propensity to return to concerts, orchestral music was on a par with other genres of music. Nationally, 26% of orchestral music supporters said they would be comfortable returning to an orchestral concert by the end of June, rising to 37% by the end of September. This follows a lockdown period when the orchestral genre has appealed to a broader audience, with 26% of adults saying orchestral and chamber music helped them to get through home isolation, inspiring them and lifting their spirits
  • Looking longer term, 39% of adults felt they would be safe returning to concert halls by the end of September, with the majority of adults (51%) planning a return by June 2022
  • Significantly, the desire to get back to the concert hall was felt across the UK. Whilst a return to the concert hall by the end of June was most prevalent in London (39%), there was comparably strong support for live music in Scotland (29%), the North East (29%) the North West (28%) and the South West (28%)

The findings from the RPO study come at a time when music venues around the UK are gradually re-opening their doors. In London, the Southbank Centre has recently announced its re-opening programme, Summer Reunion, featuring the RPO’s Music Director Designate Vasily Petrenko conducting the Orchestra in a programme comprising works by Rossini, Haydn and Vaughan Williams ahead of its 75th Anniversary celebrations starting in September.

James Williams, Managing Director at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra comments:

“The public’s desire to return to live music this summer is an emphatic vote of confidence in the vibrancy of British arts and an acknowledgement that culture has a vital role to play in helping society to heal and rebuild after this dreadful pandemic. Music is one of Britain’s greatest exports to the world and yet, across the UK, the future of the live music scene has been on a knife-edge for more than a year. The support from the Cultural Recovery Fund has been most welcome, but as restrictions ease, the summer months will be crucial. Our research shows that 88% of people recognise the arts has been seriously affected by Covid and lockdown. It is now time to safely get people back to music venues, to begin the work of rebuilding the arts, supporting people’s wellbeing and giving a much-needed boost to the economy at large.”

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