COVID-19 Sector Benchmark: Insight Report 1: May 2020

June 10, 2020
TRG Arts and Purple Seven by David Brownlee for TRG Arts and Purple Seven

Tracking the Initial Impact of COVID-19 on the Performing Arts in the U.K. and North America

Executive Summary – Key Findings

  • DThe immediate and ongoing impact on the performing arts of the COVID-19 lockdown fell more in the U.K. than in North America.
  • In North America, comparative annual ticket sales collapsed by 71% during the week ofMarch 16, 2020 and have not recovered.
  • In the same week, U.K. sales fell by 87% and then by 94% the following week.
  • U.K. sales remain flat, but the gap between the U.K. and North America is shrinking as there is no sign yet of recovery in the North American market, despite the accelerated release of lockdowns in many states.
  • In North America, the largest and smallest organizations are seeing sales decline most in a challenging market for all.
  • In the U.K., larger organizations are marginally outperforming smaller ones in an extremely difficult market.
  • A higher proportion of smaller U.K. organizations are choosing to shut their box offices for all sales.


TRG Arts and Purple Seven have partnered to provide real-time intelligence and advice to the arts and cultural sector on the economic impact of COVID-19 and how best to respond to it. This partnership brings together Purple Seven’s experience integrating live sales feeds from hundreds of arts venues and TRG Arts’ consulting and data analysis expertise in achieving unsurpassed results for the arts and cultural sector.

In the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, cultural organizations are invited to sign up to a free and easy to use international COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard. An automated data feed between the organization’s box office and Purple Seven’s secure servers provides a daily update on ticket sales, refunds and donations which is anonymized and aggregated for the national benchmark.

TRG Arts and Purple Seven intend to share new findings from the national benchmarks on a frequent basis during the crisis. An initial study published in June 2020 focused on the comparative impact of COVID-19 on ticket sales in North America and the U.K. from January to May 2020.

This second study examines trends in individual giving in the first half of 2020. While ticket sales have fallen dramatically, have levels of giving proved more resilient—or even grown—thanks to the conversion of refunded ticket income to gifts?

Sign up for the free Dashboard

TRG Arts is continually studying the impact of COVID-19 on the resiliency of the arts and cultural sector.

COVID-19 International Sector Benchmark studies live transactional data from across the globe. See your organization's near real-time sales and giving data in your Dashboard and understand the effects of COVID-19 on your operations against a benchmark of similar organizations. Over 400 arts organizations are using the Dashboard to understand how audiences are responding to their ticketing and giving campaigns.

Participation is Free: Register Today

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts through our partnership with SMU DataArts.