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The economic contribution of the Arts

March 2, 2021
Published on:
March 4, 2020
January 24, 2021

economic contribution of UK arts & Culture

The contribution made by the UK arts and culture industry* is measurable in terms of direct impact, indirect value through generated jobs supported by industries that supply goods and services to arts and culture organisations, and the induced impact from calculating the effects of spend by culture industry employees in the wider economy.

Based on the Arts Council England report commissioned from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), the arts and culture industry in 2016 was responsible for:

  • £21.2bn in direct turnover
  • £10.8bn in Gross Value Added (GVA), with £8.6bn of this generated by the market segment of the industry and the remaining £2.2bn contributed by the non-market organisations
  • 137,250 jobs
  • £6.1bn in employee compensation

When indirect and induced effects are also added in, the arts and culture industry is estimated to have supported £48bn in turnover, £23bn in GVA, 363,713 jobs and £13.4bn in employee compensation.

*includes book publishing, sound recording and music publishing, performing arts, artistic creation and operation of arts facilities

Source: CEBR/Arts Council England report, April 2019.

Government data

The contribution of arts and culture sectors is represented in different ways by the Government data.

According to the official statistics from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, cultural industries provided an estimated Gross Value Added of £32.03bn in 2018, an annual increase of 2.7 per cent. More than two thirds of this contribution is due to the category covering film, TV, radio and photography, which is also counted in the creative industries (which contributed an overall £111.7bn during the same period).

Outside this overlapping area, the DCMS cultural industries category also includes smaller contributions from cultural education, museums and galleries, libraries and historical attractions.

Source: DCMS Economic Estimates, February 2020.  

Employment in Arts & Culture

  • Estimated number of UK jobs in museums, galleries and libraries in 2018: 89,000
  • Estimated number of UK jobs in music, performing and the visual arts: 296,000

Source: Economic estimates of DCMS Sectors, Employment, June 2019.

some of the world's most visited museums

The UK has four of the top 10 most visited museums in world - more than any other country. According to 2018 visitor data published in the Art Newspaper, Tate Modern was the most visited institution (5.86m, 5th), followed by the British Museum (5.82m, 6th), the National Gallery (5.75m, 7th) and the Victoria & Albert Museum (3.97m, 10th).

2018 also proved a successful year for the Royal Academy of Arts, which celebrated its 250th anniversary by opening a new extension to its building and hosting successful shows on Oceanic Art and an exhibition which reunited artworks for the internationally dispersed former collection of King Charles I. In total, attendance to the Royal Academy was estimated to be a record 1.6m in 2018.

The UK also contributed to the success of the Shanghai Museum, with the hit show, 'Masterpieces from Tate Britain 1700-1980' attracting 618,000 visitors in China, making it the most visited exhibition associated with Tate Britain.

Source: The Art Newspaper, March 2019.

London & UK theatres enjoy robust 2018

Theatres in London and across the UK attracted more than 34m visitors in 2018, generating ticket revenues of £1.28bn from 62,945 performances, according to figures from UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre.

London's West End theatres drew in more than 15.5m theatre-goers and generated £127m in VAT for the Treasury, reflecting a particularly strong year for musical theatre. The largest presenting houses performed well, with smaller producing theatres experiencing a dip in attendance and revenue.

In London theatres, on average 77.5 per cent of available seats were filled, compared to 61 per cent in venues covered by the UK Theatre group.

Source: SOLT, UK Theatre release

Funding for the Arts & Culture Industries

  • The Arts Council of England received total grant in aid of £440.1m in 2013/4, which was approximately unchanged from the previous year. Total Lottery funding was £172.1m in 2013/4, compared to £317.2m in 2012/3, the Olympic and Jubilee year.
  • From 2012 to 2015, the Arts Council of England funded 691 national portfolio organisations and 16 major museums. The Government has provided ACE with £200m between 2010 and 2015 to support regional museums.
  • In addition to funding the ACE, the Government directly funded 16 national and non-national museums and galleries and English Heritage, which has a remit to advise on the built environment and also on historical buildings and sites.
  • For every £1 invested in the Momentum scheme run by the Arts Council and PRS, which supports mid-career musicians, an estimated £7.46 is recouped by the music industry.

Sources: Culture and Creativity, DCMS report, March 2015; Arts Council data.

Cultural diplomacy and the great campaign

  • The GREAT campaign was launched in 2012 to harness British creativity, innovation and cultural assets to strengthen the UK's international competitive position. At the beginning of 2014, the campaign was estimated to have generated £500m in the markets where the campaign directly funds activities. In March 2015, the campaign was forecast to generate up to £800m from its 2013/4 funding.
  • The Government has created a £18m fund to promote the best of English arts and culture abroad and encourage collaboration and exchange.

Source: Culture and Creativity, DCMS report, March 2015.

Arts & Economics

  • The aggregate turnover of business in the UK arts and culture industry was £12.4bn in 2011, according to the Centre for Economic and Business Research. (Source: Create, Arts Council of England).
  • The CEBR also estimates that the arts and culture sector contributes £7.7bn to the UK economy.
  • For every £1 of salary paid by the arts and culture industry, an additional £2.01 is generated in the wider economy through indirect and induced multiplier impacts. (Source: The Value of Arts and Culture to the People and Society, Arts Council of England).
  • .In 2011, 10m inbound visits to the UK involved engagement with the arts and culture, representing 32 per cent of all visits to the UK and 42 per cent of all in-bound tourism-related expenditure. (Source: The Value of Arts and Culture to the People and Society, Arts Council of England).
  • In its first year, the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, south east England, made a £13.9m impact on Kent's economy. In Wakefield in Yorkshire, the Hepworth contributed £10m to the the local economy.
  • 57% of people surveyed by the Nation Brands Index in 2009 agreed that "history and culture" was a strong influence on their choice to visit Britain.
  • The Arts Council England invested £442,730,843 of Grant-in-Aid and £172,147,060 of Lottery money in arts and culture. (Source: Arts Council England annual report 2013/4).
  • Liverpool's Capital of Culture year generated £753.8m for the local economy in 2008. (Source: Arts Council England Evidence Review).

Arts and Culture - Economic Contribution

  • The arts and culture sector accounts for c.0.4 per cent of UK GDP.
  • Broadly, the UK arts and culture industry support c.260,300 full-time equivalent jobs, or 1.1 per cent of total UK employment. (Note, this number differs from official government data due to differences in categorisation and counting methods).
  • The arts and culture industry pays nearly five per cent more than UK median salary, thereby making a positive contribution to average household earnings.
  • The UK’s arts and culture are a very strong draw for international visitors, attracting at least £856m of tourist spending.
  • Arts and culture play an important role in supporting the UK’s wider commercial creative industries, such as film production, advertising, design and crafts, and showcasing the country’s creative talent overseas.
  • The arts and culture sector has an important benefit on health and well-being. Those who had attended a cultural place or event in the preceding 12 months were 60 per cent more likely to report good health, and theatre-goers were 25 per cent more likely to report being in health than the average.  People valued being in the audience for the arts at about £2,000 per year, which is higher than sport.

Sources: The Contribution of the Arts and Culture to the National Economy, Arts Council of England; , Arts Council of England.The Value of Arts and Culture to the People and Society

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