SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Two Years On

The following is an excerpt from an insight report published on March 16, 2022, "Two Years On" This report is part of a larger project called the COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard conducted by TRG Arts and Purple Seven to help arts organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. understand how the COVID-19 virus has affected operations.


Key Findings

  • Data from 385 CRMs of arts venues illustrate two years of extremely challenging trading in all territories.
  • While reductions in sales and revenues in 2020 were universally catastrophic, the pace of recovery between and within nations in 2021 was very varied, both geographically and by venue type.
  • The positive trends in all territories in November 2021 were not sustained into December 2021 as the Omicron variant spread around the world.
  • In some nations there has been movement between 2019 and 2021 in the average age and wealth of bookers, but this has been minor, not fundamental.
  • The majority of bookers in 2021 were first time bookers. This was also the case before the pandemic in 2019.
  • Across all venues on average booking patterns were no later in 2021 than they were in 2019.


Read 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 policymakers 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.

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