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The New Experience Economy: The Intersection of Arts, Culture, Sports & Recreation in a Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Environment

Wave 1 Results for Alberta

September 9, 20209 September 2020

Arts attendance and COVID-19

Stone Olafson

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Based on a survey of 1,348 Alberta residents (18 years of age or older) between May 21 and June 2, this report examines “attitudes and behaviours towards social and group activities” in the coming months “in the arts, culture, sports, recreation, tourism and hospitality sectors” (which the report calls the “Experience Economy”). A margin of error cannot be estimated due to the non-random survey method.

A key finding of the report is that “99% of Albertans participate in the Experience Economy in some form”. In the report, participation means regularly observing, attending, or doing activities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • 82% of respondents regularly participated in observing activities such as “downloading content, watching live events on TV or online”
  • 89% of respondents regularly attended events in person in the “arts and culture, festivals, sports, recreation and other live events”
  • 94% of respondents regularly did activities such as “organized sports, taking art classes, performing, traveling or enjoying recreational opportunities”

The survey finds that 72% of respondents regularly participated in each of these three types of activities, and another 22% participated in two of the three types. Just 5% of respondents regularly participated in only one type of activity, and 1% did not participate in any of them.

Survey results indicate that many respondents are not particularly comfortable returning to in person arts and culture activities, especially large group activities:

  • 62% of respondents are “wary about interacting with people [they] don’t know”
  • 27% expect to “attend a group event outside (<50 people) at the next available opportunity”
  • 22% expect to “visit bookstores at the next available opportunity”
  • 14% expect to “visit museums and art galleries at the next available opportunity”

In terms of the most important factors in increasing respondents’ “comfort level with resuming [their] regular activities”, 30% of respondents indicated “a vaccine or cure for the virus”, and the same proportion indicated “reliable statistics in our province”.

As of the survey fielding, 46% of Albertans had experienced a decrease in their income. About three-quarters (73%) of people who had experienced layoffs or wage reductions cited COVID-19 as the main factor, while another 22% cited low oil prices. The report notes that the economic concerns of these residents may “complicate planning over time” for organizations, and the “fragile consumer mindset” may have enduring negative implications.

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