Survey Shows DC-Area Theatre-goers Are Not Yet Ready to Remove Their Masks

Theatre Washington and Limelight Insights by Shugoll, a national marketing research company headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, conducted an online survey about whether regional theatre-goers want the current mask and vaccination requirements in theatres to end on April 30, 2022 or subsequent months. The report is based on 2,128 responses from DC area theatre-goers from March 14-17. Despite indoor mask and vaccination mandates terminating in many local jurisdictions, significantly more audience members respond negatively than positively about ending these requirements in theatres. 

Based on the survey results and in consultation with partner theatres, Theatre Washington has extended the Unified Mask and Vaccination Policy to April 30, 2022, and will be reviewing it monthly through the summer and fall. View details of the policies and an updated list of participating theatres. 

Report highlights: 

  • The majority of current theatre-goers (53%) are not in favor of ending the mask requirement for theatres on April 30, 2022. Of these, 39% are very negative about ending it. Only 30% are at least somewhat positive and just 22% are very positive about ending the requirement. 
  • Only about half (49%) of the respondents say they are likely to attend theatre as often as they do now if masks are not required, while a significant number (38%) are likely to attend less often. 
  • The first month that over half of theatre-goers with an opinion say they believe theatres should stop requiring audiences to wear masks is June (61%). This increases to 71% in August. 
  • Over half of respondents answered “not sure” when asked what is the right time to eliminate masks in theatres.
  • Over three-quarters of theatre-goers (77%) are very negative about eliminating the vaccination requirement on April 30, 2022. Only 6% would strongly like to see this ended. Additionally, 78% strongly believe audiences should be required to show proof of a booster shot. Only 6% strongly oppose adding the booster requirement.


Methodology and Additional Information
This study was conducted using an online survey sent to subscribers and single ticket buyers at eight DC area theatres asked to participate by Theatre Washington: Arena Stage, Imagination Stage, Olney Theatre Center, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. These theatres were not randomly selected and are all large to mid-size theatres in the area. Participants were required to have attended at least one professional theatre production since theatres reopened. Note that Imagination Stage respondents were not included in the main analysis since the views of family audiences could be different than traditional theatre audiences. They were analyzed separately.