Audience Atlas New Zealand

In May 2018 the third edition of Audience Atlas New Zealand was officially launched at Creative New Zealand’s Nui te Kōrero | The Big Conversation conference.  

First commissioned by Creative New Zealand in 2011 and repeated in 2014 and 2017, 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 artforms in New Zealand.  

MHM has conducted Audience Atlas studies across the globe from New York to China. Since New Zealand was an early adopter of the study, we now have three studies spanning seven years.

New Zealand 
is also unique since it celebrates the highest proportion of people attending arts and culture than any other nation where this study has taken place. Creative New Zealand’s investment results in a growing databank of comprehensive data which helps New Zealand arts organisations of all shapes, sizes and scales better understand their audiences.

Key findings from the study

  • The market for arts and culture in New Zealand is larger than ever.  In the last three years, 97% of adults have attended an arts or culture event (from contemporary dance through to seeing a movie outside the home) and there’s been sustained growth in the size of the market over the past six years, boosted by New Zealand’s growing population. 

  • There might be more people, but they’re being more selective and considered in what they attend. In 2017 the market engaged with a narrower range of artforms than in 2014 and the number of people spending on culture in a given month has decreased significantly, from around four in 10 in 2011 and 2014 to one third in 2017. But those who do spend actually part with more cash, so overall spend is up.

  • With ‘screen time’ increasingly infiltrating people’s day-to-day, the arts play an important role in providing social experiences. Cultural events are highly valued by the New Zealand market for providing connections to other people and quality time with friends and family.

  • Support for the arts is transitioning. There’s been a steady decline in both the proportion of the market volunteering in support of an arts,culturalor heritage organisation and the proportion with an active membership or subscription. It may be time to reassess the traditional subscriber and volunteer models to ensure they continue to fit into the lives of modern arts consumers. 

  • But, when it comes to financial donations, support is on the up. In 2017, 28% of the market had supported the arts financially in the past three years compared to 23% in 2014. Overwhelmingly the market offers this support through low-commitment, one-off donations but the potential for longer-term, regular support is growing and there is also significant latent interest in legacy giving. 

  • Consuming arts and culture online is no longer a niche concept. Digital increasingly influences how the market finds out about arts and culture events. In just three years, we’ve seen a significant shift away from traditional media towards online content. Meanwhile the market for virtual arts experiences is opening up, presenting a format that more than one in five anticipate spending more time engaging with in the future. Rather than cannibalising real-world arts attendance, digital interactions are complementary and can serve to further encourage people to get out and see the live experience.

New Zealand's largest study into its cultural market

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

It segmented the market using MHM’s Culture Segments, delving into people’s motivations and values for engaging with culture.  

This means that 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 market 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. 

Helen Bartle, Senior Adviser Audience Development and Capability Building at Creative New Zealand said: ‘Creative New Zealand’s commitment to delivering high quality audience insight to our clients and the wider sector is made possible not only through this comprehensive market report but also through the organisation-level reports. This is truly gold for individual organisations and is providing the deepest dive yet into how New Zealanders engage in the arts and what might encourage them to do so. We are especially excited to see changes over the past six years to gain a better picture of trends over time. There is lots more gold to be mined and we are planning a series of Audience Atlas workshops to help clients apply the results and turn insight into action. Now the fun stuff begins!’

Find out more by accessing the full report here or contacting Ginny Cartmel and the New Zealand team. 

Photo credits: 
David St George. Courtesy Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
Amanda Billing. Knee Dance choreographed by Douglas Wright for Limbs@40, Tempo Dance Festival 2017. 


Ginny brings a decade of experience working with a range of clients internationally and leads the...

Lydia has a diverse background in the creative industries and has a lot of contact with the local...

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Audience Atlas Population Surveys