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July 2, 2021

Planning for a Safe Return (July Update)


Audience Entering Hill Auditorium

UMS is joining two dozen arts organizations across Southeast Michigan in surveying audiences every other month for updated insights into what they expect when returning to venues for live performances. The research is administered by leading arts researcher WolfBrown and sponsored by CultureSource.

Here is what we’ve learned from participating UMS audience members so far (data as of June 11, 2021):

The Vast Majority of our Audience is Fully Vaccinated

As of June 11, 95% of UMS audience members surveyed are fully vaccinated (and another 1% is partially vaccinated). These rates are consistent with arts attendees across the country who overall have an extremely high rate of vaccination. This continues the trend of growth in vaccination rates among arts attendees. It also aligns with the survey data that was collected and reported in April.

Chart: Vaccination rates of surveyed audience members

Rates of vaccination continue to be high across all age ranges of surveyed UMS audience members.

Audiences are Eager to Return to UMS Performances

91% of our surveyed audience members indicated that they were eager to return to UMS. Additionally, 42% said they are ready to attend now, and 78% of our audience members expect to resume attending live performing arts programs by our first scheduled performance by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in November 2021.


Chart: If given the opportunity, would you attend an indoor event this week?

Chart: How do you feel about going out to cultural events?


Masking and Safety Protocols Remains Important

Nearly half of our audience noted that at this time, required mask-wearing would be a prerequisite for attending an indoor performance.

Audiences have split opinions regarding vaccination policies, with some individuals considering the presence of policies a must-have and the absence of them as deal-breaker.

We are currently awaiting guidance from the University of Michigan about protocols for attending live performances but anticipate that we will be reopening to full capacity given the current CDC and State of Michigan guidelines. As we get closer to live events, protocols may be updated in consultation with public health officials at the University of Michigan and with additional guidance from the State of Michigan.

UMS expects audiences to do their part to create a safe environment for everyone and to follow all health and safety protocols of the venue, regardless of vaccination status.

Digital Access Remains a Priority

More than 60% of UMS audiences have enjoyed digital programming over the past year, and 80% of surveyed audiences feel that digital will play a role in their future arts consumption.

As we prepare for the 2021/22 season, we want to assure you that our commitment to accessible digital events will continue, again at no cost. We’re planning for a variety of digital experiences: some that will enhance our live events and some that will stand alone in the digital space — with a few surprises along the way.

Remember, your voice is important to us!

If you receive an invitation to participate in an upcoming return to theaters survey from UMS and other presenters, please consider doing so! These surveys are happening across two dozen arts organizations in Southeast Michigan, allowing us to help us plan for what is most important to you as we move forward.