Building Experiences in the New Economy

Originally published on November 2, 2021
Updated on May 3, 2022

Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reshaped how audiences engage with the experience economy across different sectors and forced leaders to grapple with everything COVID-related, overcome emotional barriers like comfort, and deal with risk tolerances simply to engage their audiences.

Starting in 2020, a province-wide research study was made available to support decision-makers with timely and relevant data. This work builds on those efforts and will allow leaders to have continued access to data to fuel recovery and to inform efforts to rebuild experiences in ways that align with changing audience expectations and needs.

Phase 2 of this work is tracking key attitudes and perceptions that influence consumer mindsets, overall willingness to engage with activities now that restrictions have largely lifted, and identifying messages and approaches to re-engaging audiences with experiences in the community.

Key Trends in the Latest Round of Research
  • This is still a non-committed audience. People continue to grapple with the mental and emotional impact of COVID and audiences are returning to activities at different rates.
  • Not all activities are equal. Some audiences are more primed than others, but because both comfort and financial capabilities vary, not every organization is accessing the full market.
  • Shared experiences, emotional escape, and well-being remain key motivations. The current environment means audiences are placing a higher priority on fun, light-hearted experiences.
  • Audiences also need to hear about the benefits of involvement. Cost and comfort need to be addressed, but reminding audiences the reasons they had for engaging with the arts in the first place will be more compelling.
  • Recognizing the shift in buying habits is important. The trend is moving away from long-term commitments to more flexible options that organizations need to consider.
This is a Community Resource

The initiative is being funded by leaders who see an opportunity to support organizations which bring remarkable experiences to life in communities across Alberta. These include Calgary Arts Development, Edmonton Arts Council, Stone-Olafson, the ActiveCITY Collective, Tourism Calgary, and Explore Edmonton.

New rounds of research are continuing to provide information on this topic. If you have not done so already, sign up at to receive notifications about information sharing workshops and future research endeavours.

A prior six waves of research have been completed in a longitudinal study since May 2020.

The first round of Phase 2 Research Outcomes is available here: November 2021 

Download the latest round of Phase 2 Research Outcomes from May 2022 here:

The cover of Building Experiences in the New Economy Spring 2022 Report