Fear of coronavirus could lead almost a third of 18 to 30-year-olds to avoid theatre visits once Covid-19 outbreak lockdowns are lifted, a new survey claims.
The poll, organised last month by specialist insurance company Ecclesiastical, suggested "heritage" sites in general would be less popular, but that theatres would be high up on the list of avoided places.
In contrast, around 44 per cent of young adults who had sampled online theatre offerings this year would be willing to pay for continued access if charges were imposed.
Before the lockdown in March, many young adults were disengaged with heritage organisations: 53 per cent claimed never to visit theatre.
A third (30%) are reportedly less likely to visit theatres in person post-lockdown over concerns that even if they are told it is safe, there will be too many people visiting and they will risk catching coronavirus.
Many theatres have streamed theatre performances or other entertainments to the public during lockdown, but 80 per cent of those polled haven't watched them. Of those who did, 76 per cent enjoyed the experience.
Of those who would be willing to pay for digital access post-lockdown, 63 per cent would pay a small donation while 43 per cent would pay a membership subscription.
The National Theatre has been a great example of a heritage attraction that has adapted to lockdown conditions, broadcasting free online some of its most popular productions.
Faith Kitchen of Ecclesiastical said: “While many heritage organisations have worked hard to offer digital experiences during lockdown, clearly more needs to be done to advertise to and engage young people.
"It’s an incredibly challenging time for the sector so it’s really encouraging to read that two fifths of young adults who visited an attraction online during lockdown said they would be willing to pay for online access if it were no longer free. Prioritising spend or funding for digital initiatives may support engagement with a younger audience and provide new revenue streams.”