SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Revival Appears Faster in Traditionally Smaller Arts Markets

  • Posted May 21, 2021

The following is an excerpt from an insight report published on May 20, 2021, "Green Shoots in April 2021?" conducted by TRG Arts and Purple Seven as part of a larger project, the COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard. These reports are intended thelp arts organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. understand how the COVID-19 virus has affected arts operations.

The Art of Action, David Brewster, Halifax, VT. Photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur. The Art of Action, David Brewster, Halifax, VT. Photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur.

This study demonstrates that there are green shoots of recovery in ticket sales, but these are not spread evenly between or within countries. Even where the recovery is most advanced, ticket sales are still far below their pre-pandemic levels.

In the U.K., the fall/autumn period in 2021 shows promise with encouraging levels of advance sales, and sales for 2022 look encouraging in both the U.S. and the U.K. December is a crucial month for box office revenue in both countries. Sales for the holiday period have a long way to go if 2021 is to return to normal.

The samples are smaller in the Republic of Ireland and Canada, but if participating organizations are broadly reflective of the sector, it appears the rival in advance sales in both countries is well behind their larger neighbors. While this analysis does give some grounds for optimism, the recovery is so far partial and uneven. In the coming month, organizations will want to know if the patterns they are seeing in their sales are comparatively strong or weak. Purple Seven and TRG Arts will repeat this study in the summer and encourage participating organizations to use their Benchmark Dashboards to measure their performance against their peers.

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

Key Findings from the Report

  • Ticket sales and revenue in North America continue to be far below the equivalent levels in 2019
  • Canada recorded a partial revival in November and December 2020, but this was not sustained
  • The picture is more positive in the U.S. where aggregate daily revenue has been trending upward throughout March and April 2021. April saw the best comparative sales and revenues since May 2020
  • The revival appears faster in traditionally smaller markets with April 2021 aggregate revenues in New England at 62% of what was achieved in April 2019
  • Currently, the sales revival is uneven across venue types, with aggregate sales for symphonies and concert halls the lowest compared to the equivalent month in 2019
  • Almost half (48%) of total advance revenue held by U.S. venues and 41% of advance tickets are for performances due to take place in 2022
  • 34% of advance revenue in Canada relates to events in just three months: September to November 2021. This is the same amount as for all performances due to take place in all of 2022, which is positive in the short term, but concerning for the longer term
  • Compared with the pre-pandemic period of January to April 2019, in January to April 2021 the majority of U.S. organizations reported a significant reduction (20%+) in numbers of gifts and gift revenue they had received


Download the Report 


TRG Arts (The Results Group for the Arts) is a data-driven international management consulting agency that teaches arts and cultural professionals a patron-based approach to increasing sustainable revenue, and provides aggregated arts consumer analytics and research tools to global communities and policy makers. TRG collects and analyzes live purchase and individual contribution data from hundreds of organizations free of charge through its COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard. TRG shares its crisis counsel and best practices through a free, weekly webinar series, TRG 30; on the TRG 30 Virtual Network on LinkedIn, where arts professionals gather and have their questions answered by TRG consultants; and on the TRG blog. Visit

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