Published on Tuesday 30 November 2021

59% of the Maltese public are open to donating money to cultural organisations to support their work, whilst 44% are willing to pay for cultural events that were previously free, and a further 37% are willing to pay ticket prices that are up to 10% higher than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are some of the main findings from an Audience Research study commissioned by Arts Council Malta over the past months.

The study sought to examine some crucial issues for the cultural sector as it adapted to the pandemic, namely how the pandemic has changed audiences’ willingness to participate in cultural events, how it shaped engagement with online cultural activity, and what patterns of attendance are emerging as health restrictions are gradually removed. Furthermore, it explored how Public Cultural Organisations can adapt to these new realities in light of the ever-changing public health situation. 

The study consisted of three surveys carried out amongst the public, held over a period of nine months, examining changes in behaviour at different stages of the pandemic, together with a series of focus groups held amongst key stakeholders and representatives of Public Cultural Organisations. The study was carried out by EMCS Ltd.

Other findings include that while 73% of respondents had attended at least one artistic or cultural activity in the 12 months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are still reluctant to attend in-person cultural events and are less likely to attend in the future than they were prior to the pandemic. Meanwhile, interest in participating in online cultural activity has declines throughout the period of the study and remains low across all types of cultural activity.

Reflecting on these findings, Minister for National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government José Herrera stated “Although the study shows a degree of caution from the public when it comes to physical attendance to cultural events, it also reveals that the Maltese public understands and appreciates the great value that cultural and artistic organisations represent within society. This is an opportunity for us to rethink how we can establish stronger, more meaningful and longer-lasting relationships with our audiences”.

Mary Ann Cauchi, Director for Funding and Strategy at Arts Council Malta said “This study enables us to gain a clearer picture of the changes that took place within the cultural sector, and its audiences, at such a delicate time. This will help us to better understand how Arts Council Malta and Public Cultural Organisations can address the sector’s needs through the key recommendations that emerged from the study”.

Looking to the future, Arts Council Malta’s Head of Strategy Adrian Debattista said “The findings from this study come at an opportune moment as Arts Council Malta is in the process of rethinking its understanding of audiences following recent global events. The data from this study will enable us to better design our initiatives in the coming years in our work with Public Cultural Organisations as well as independent cultural operators. This is in line with ACM's upcoming strategy, which places importance on the right to culture across diverse communities”.

The study’s full report is available here

For more information about the study visit here