Poll finds more than half of Scots are ready to attend live events when social distancing eases

More than half of Scots would be prepared to return to music, theatre and comedy shows if social distancing restrictions were eased, new research has found.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 1:31 pm
The Tron Theatre in Glasgow. Picture: John Johnston

Around 59 per cent of the population say they would be “comfortable or very comfortable watching a show one metre apart from other audience members if other mitigation measures, including face coverings, were in place.

Less than a quarter of Scots said they would happy to attend a show without any social distancing measures.

And just over half of those polled said they would be in favour of cultural events only being available to audience members who had obtained a recent negative Covid test.

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The Usher Hall in Edinburgh has been closed since last March.

The size of the the crowd at an event and the enforcement of Covid guidelines were cited as the two biggest factors in deciding whether to book a ticket.

The audience attitudes survey for national arts agency Creative Scotland has found that outdoor events currently have much more appeal to potential audiences than indoor entertainment. Nearly two thirds of Scots said they would be comfortable attending outdoor theatre, music or comedy shows.

Live music fans were found to be the most enthusiastic about returning to shows, ahead of regular attendees at comedy gigs, the theatre and cinema.More than two thirds of music fans are planning to go to a gig in the near future, with more than half already booked up for at least one show.

More than 1000 Scots were polled for the study, carried out in May by market research firm 56 Degree Insight for Creative Scotland, which was published the day after the Scottish Government revealed plans to ease restrictions on indoor and outdoor events.

Under its new timetable, distancing restrictions on outdoor events will be lifted on 19 July, when the controversial two metre restriction on indoor events will be reduced to one metre. All legal restrictions are proposed to be lifted on 9 August if everything goes according to plan with the vaccine roll-out and keeping hospital admissions down.

The research states: “Respondents were asked how comfortable they would feel attending indoor cultural venues in the near future with a range of social distancing requirements.“In May 2021, 59 per cent of the population were very or fairly comfortable with the option of one metre distancing but with additional protection such as face coverings, Perspex screens, recording contact details and time limitations in place.”Creative Scotland’s own report on the research said: "The research shows that the desire to attend cultural events and venues remains strong. It does, however, reinforce that parts of the creative sector may recover more slowly than other areas of the economy and public demand will vary between organisations, art forms and the venues in which work is presented.”

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said: "These findings help us better understand how audiences feel about attending cultural events and venues in light of the pandemic.

"They show how important art and creativity is for people, how much they have missed participating in culture and that the desire to attend cultural events and venues remains strong.

"We welcome the recently published review of current social distancing restrictions and will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government to support culture through this extremely difficult time, in line with public health advice.”

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