‘Starved of culture’ – survey finds one in four UK adults ready for live concerts by end of June

27 May 2021, 12:01 | Updated: 27 May 2021, 16:35

'Starved of culture' – Yuja Wang and Pete Tong; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
'Starved of culture' – Yuja Wang and Pete Tong; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Picture: Getty/RPO

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Survey reveals a quarter of music lovers are eager to return to the concert hall by the end of June, as the nation slowly rebuilds its appetite for live music.

New research by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has found one in four UK adults want to be back in a concert hall by the end of June, in a week that has seen COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Two fifths (39 percent) say they will be ready for a return to live music by September.

Over the past week, people have been enjoying live music in person for the first time since December 2020. Classical music and opera lovers have described feelings of “pure joy” and being “ecstatic” to attend venues again, with one Royal Opera House audience member saying “impromptu applause erupted during the first tuning note”.

Regular concertgoer, Camilla Raymond, 36, told the RPO: “I can’t wait. I’ve been starved of culture throughout the whole of lockdown.

“Live music is all about the shared experience – musicians playing in the same room as the audience, experiencing the same thing at the same time, together.”

Read more: The best classical concerts, festivals and venues returning this summer

The new RPO research gives a ray of hope that after an unprecedented year for the arts, with the future of many venues in the balance, many people are now regarding live concerts to be a safe cultural activity.

“Added to this is the fact that the musicians have not been able to play together for so long will be finally reunited, after such a tough year,” Raymond added, predicting that the first time back in the concert hall “will be a special moment.”

In a survey of over 2,000 adults across the UK, more than one in four said they would feel comfortable returning to theatres (28 percent) and concert halls (26 percent) by the end of June.

According to the orchestra’s research, more people were comfortable returning to these events than football matches (23 percent) or nightclubs (20 percent).

Football stadiums opened to audiences at reduced capacity on 17 May, but nightclubs are not slated to reopen until 21 June at the very earliest.

Read more: Amateur choirs’ anger – ‘10,000 singing football fans, but only 6 in a choir?’

Nationally, 26 percent of orchestral music lovers said they would be comfortable returning to an orchestral concert by the end of June, rising to 37 percent by the end of September.

Looking longer term, 39 percent of adults felt they would be safe returning to concert halls by the end of September.

However, confidence is still slow to return as only 51 percent said they would be comfortable returning to live music by June 2022.

James Williams, the RPO’s managing director, said: “Culture has a vital role to play in helping society to heal and rebuild after this dreadful pandemic.

“Music is one of Britain’s greatest exports to the world and yet, across the UK, the future of the live music scene has been on a knife-edge for more than a year.

“It is now time to safely get people back to music venues, to begin the work of rebuilding the arts, supporting people’s wellbeing and giving a much-needed boost to the economy at large.”