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SLO Arts Leadership Roundtable



Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Leadership Roundtable was formed in April by local arts agencies as way to foster collaboration and increase communication between SLO County arts organizations and live entertainment venues. Feedback from the surveys will be used to develop plans for safely presenting live performances and reopening procedures as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in California; the latest report offers new insights into the impacts of COVID-19 from the perspective of audience members, patrons and the arts community.

July Audience Perception Survey

More than 3,000 people in San Luis Obispo County responded to the first survey (May 11-17) and 3,403 responded to the second survey (July 6-17). Respondents were asked to give their opinions on public safety and health regulations, motivators for attending live events, and their experience with virtual performances. The Arts Leadership Roundtable plans to conduct the survey every two to three months, as conditions warrant/change, until arts organizations locally are able to safely present public performances again.

While the second survey received responses from Central Coast residents under 24 to over 65, the prevailing demographic (70%) came from those 55 and above. Of all surveyed, 38% came from San Luis Obispo city and mid-county, 33% came from South County, and 28% came from North County.
In the past two years, respondents attended venues throughout the county, including Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo, Fremont Theatre, Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Avila Beach Golf Resort, the Harold J. Miossi Cultural and Performing Arts Center at Cuesta College, as well as several others.

Survey respondents are active supporters of arts organizations throughout the county; over half indicated they attend three or more performances each year. All the arts organizations who participate in the Arts Leadership Roundtable (see below) are represented in these findings.
Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo Managing Director, Chris Miller, noted: “This information is critical to help the PAC and our colleague arts organizations/venues plan for safely returning to presenting future performances and events. While we’re anxious to do that as soon as possible, the health and safety of our audience members, artists, staff, and volunteers is most important. We greatly appreciate our audience members taking the time to complete these surveys.”

San Luis Obispo Symphony Executive Director, Anna James Miller, added: “Those who seemed on the fence in the first survey [about whether they would attend] now seem to be less willing to attend live performances in the immediate future.”

Key Findings:

  • 39% of respondents say they will wait until there is a vaccine before attending a live event with over 50 people in a SLO County venue.

  • 75% of people say they have not experienced a significant financial impact due to COVID-19 (ie. unemployment, pay reduction, etc.).

  • Confidence engaging with neighbors, friends, and the community decreased from May (49%) to July (41%).

  • 78% of respondents say limits on audience size is important when attending a live performance.

  • Mandatory masks (62%) and available hand sanitizer (58%) are big factors in making patrons feel safe and comfortable at a live performance.

  • Temperature checks for all patrons, staff and performers (63%), and required social distancing (76%) are important when attending a live performance.

  • When restrictions are lifted, 76% say they are likely to attend a live event if recommended safety measures are in place.

  • 55% have watched at least one performance streamed online in the past month.



Participating Organizations


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