Audience Atlas Aotearoa

A major new study of New Zealanders’ cultural habits and preferences has revealed significant challenges to successful audience and organisational development within New Zealand arts organisations and the sector at large. 

Get the free report here.

Further data on individual organisations is available. Contact to discuss a deeper dive. 

This iteration of Audience Atlas couldn’t come at a more important time for New Zealand’s cultural sector as it adapts to the realities of the pandemic and beyond.

- Helen Khoey, Senior Advisor, Audience Development and Capability Building, Creative New Zealand

The 2020 edition of Audience Atlas Aotearoa – the largest study of its kind – was commissioned by Creative New Zealand and carried out by leading cultural consultancy, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre (MHM).

It is the fourth time since 2011 the study has taken place. 

The report includes a raft of insights into audience behaviour with recommendations to support future engagement and sustainability at organisational and sector levels. 

Audience engagement and the pandemic

The 2020 iteration of the study – undertaken against the backdrop of the global pandemic – found that Covid-19 restrictions had only marginally increased people’s appreciation of the arts, and just amongst those who valued it prior. 

The study revealed strong evidence that the arts has a positive impact on personal wellbeing. However, this is not experienced universally – it is those already ‘converted’ that are getting the benefit. 

And, while the pandemic provided arts organisations with the impetus to ‘become digital’, growth in online engagement has been muted, suggesting it is time for the sector to take stock.  

Market expectations are changing

Once a dependable source of support within the sector, the 2020 iteration of the study shows that arts membership and subscription is down 39% on nine years ago. There is potential to turn this around however, but new models of engagement are necessary to keep up with the times. 

The study reveals a similar need with regard to voluntary support. Expectations of volunteers have shifted over the years – potential volunteers are looking for something different. Change in the sector is needed to activate the estimated $244m in untapped voluntary resource.

Culture Segments to facilitate change

In addition to a detailed picture of demographics across the market, the Audience Atlas Aotearoa uses MHM’s globally recognised Culture Segments as a critical lens for analysis.  

Culture Segments is a psychographic segmentation system clustering the market based on deep-seated values towards arts and culture. These values frame a person’s attitudes, lifestyle choices and ultimately, cultural consumption. 

Read the report here.

To discuss a deeper dive of the data for your cultural organisation, contact the MHM team at

Audience Atlas is a unique way of understanding the market for arts and culture, measuring and exploring the current, lapsed and potential markets across more than 40 art forms.

The studies have been carried out in dozens of countries and states across the globe.

Audience Atlas New Zealand was first commissioned by Creative New Zealand in 2011 and repeated in 2014, 2017 and 2020, enabling powerful trend analysis.  

The most recent survey was conducted between December 2020 and January 2021.

It asked 6,743 New Zealanders aged 16+ detailed questions about their engagement with different cultural activities.

The Audience Atlas explores the general characteristics and trends of the New Zealand culture market in terms of behaviour and propensity to support the arts, as well as market penetration data for nearly 600 specific arts organisations across the country.

In addition to a detailed picture of demographics, the market is segmented using Culture Segments, delving into people’s motivations and values for engagement.   

Through the study, Creative New Zealand is able to provide its investment clients with an up-to-date, bespoke view on their market: how many people are aware of them, who’s attended, how this compares to results for 2011, and where most opportunity for development lies.

The data is also affordably accessible to wider (non-Creative New Zealand funded) organisations, with a number of leading arts organisations already commissioning bespoke reports to get a whole-market-view for their organisation. 


  1. Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi. Photograph David St George. Courtesy of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.
  2. Photograph David St George, courtesy Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

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