SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Photo by Joey Kennedy. Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Photo by Joey Kennedy.

Who is Booking Now? Changes in Ticket Buyer Demographics Post COVID-19

The following is an excerpt from an insight report published on August 31, 2020, "Who is Booking Now? Changes in Ticket Buyer Demographics Post COVID-19," that is part of a larger project, the COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard conducted by TRG Arts, which is helping arts organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. understand how the COVID-19 virus has affected their operations.

Key Findings

  • Data from 260 CRM systems suggest that while ticket sales have greatly reduced for all buyer types, the greatest decline has been in older audiences in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • While the prospect of an audience return to ‘normality’ with a younger average demographic would be welcomed, it presents potential challenges to the financial viability of arts organizations since the combined average value of ticket purchases and donations is far higher for older patrons.
  • Organizations who balance growing the number of younger patrons engaging with alternative artistic product while also retaining older generations’ philanthropic support seems to be an emerging best practice for finding resiliency through COVID-19.

In North America:

  • The proportion of subscribers who belong to the Silent Generation decreased from 29% pre-COVID to 17%.
  • Millennial audiences doubled their proportional purchase from 4% to 9%.
  • Generation X has also seen a significant proportional increase, from 14% to 21%.
  • The mix of donors by generation changed similarly, with decreases in contributions from Silents, and an increase in proportional contribution from Gen X and Millennials.
  • The proportion of donor income from Millennials has tripled in FY21.
  • As well as a reduction in the average age of bookers, single ticket buyers for 2020/21 are proportionately more ethnically diverse, with a decrease of 2.9% in white bookers compared to the previous year.



In the United Kingdom:

  • Changes in the ages of bookers in the U.K. have been less dramatic.
  • Pre-COVID, 21% of the ticket booking audience was 65 or older; that number has declined to 18% of buyers today.
  • The largest increases are from audiences aged 25-44.
  • There has been no statistically significant change in the ethnic diversity of ticket bookers, as measured by responses to online surveys.


Purple Seven and TRG Arts are still welcoming new organizations to join the free COVID-19 Sector Benchmark and would particularly like to welcome organizations in Canada and the Republic of Ireland to establish benchmarks in these nations. To sign up and receive a free dashboard to compare your organization’s performance with your peers, visit


Download the Full Report


The COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard, developed by TRG Arts in collaboration with U.K.-based audience analytics company Purple Seven, launched in early April 2020. The dashboard, which is free, provides near real-time intelligence and advice to help arts leaders see results as they respond to the pandemic. The project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to SMU DataArts, TRG Arts' longtime partner in advancing the arts and cultural sector. 

When an organization signs up for the dashboard, an automated data feed is set up between the organization’s box office and the dashboard’s secure server. The automated feed provides a daily update on ticket sales, refunds and donations for the organization. In addition, data from all other organizations participating in the dashboard is aggregated in an anonymous format to create a national benchmark, which shows up on the dashboard and allows an organization to see how it compares with a large group of its peers. The dashboard is entirely anonymous, so no one else’s sales figures or customer data are identifiable to an organization. The dashboard provides daily insights for individual organizations that they can share with constituents and stakeholders; reveals sector trends in almost real-time, which can assist in short- and long-term planning; allows arts leaders and policy makers to track daily sales data across entire sectors; and by data gathering and benchmarking across the U.K., Canada and the U.S., gives a clearer picture of the effects of the virus on the arts sector and the recovery in each country. Monthly Insight Reports will be posted on the SMU DataArts and TRG Arts websites. Read more in the press release.

COVID-19 and the Performing Arts – Six Months After Closure

Read the Report