Stockton in Teesside is known across North East England and beyond for delivering popular cultural events, with audiences that continue to grow every year. The impact of the arts and culture sector can be felt in many ways, including economically. Often arts organisations rely on public investment, from local authorities or the Arts Council, to ensure they are thriving, resilient organisations. The return on this public investment is well-documented, and three of Arts Council England’s National portfolio organisations based in Stockton - ARC, Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) and Tees Music Alliance - have been making a positive contribution to the local economy for years.
Alison Clark-Jenkins, regional director, Arts Council England said:
“Now more than ever, it’s important we recognise the vital contribution arts organisations across the country are making to our economy. Stockton in Teesside is historically an area of low arts engagement, but thanks to the likes of ARC and SIRF, not only are more people getting involved in the arts than before, but there is a clear economic case for Stockton’s arts infrastructure to continue to receive public investment, and to thrive.”
Since opening 13 years ago, ARC has become a flagship multi-purpose cultural venue in the centre of Stockton, hosting hundreds of events a year from music and dance; to theatre, film and comedy. The following statistics highlight the economic impact all of the activity has had on the town centre:
Annabel Turpin, chief executive of ARC, said:
"As these figures show, we are using our public funding, from both Arts Council England and Stockton Borough Council, to deliver significant economic benefits to the town whilst providing a vibrant cultural hub for artists and audiences alike."
SIRF, now in its 26th year, and music festival the Stockton Weekender both took over the centre of Stockton for a weekend in August 2012. Featuring a combination of large scale outdoor cultural events (Prometheus Awakes, as part of the Cultural Olympiad), musical performances and other arts and entertainment pieces throughout, up to 80,000 people flocked to the town to experience one of the region’s landmark summer festivals. The contribution these events made to the local economy is highlighted with the following statistics:
Reuben Kench, Head of Culture & Leisure, Stockton Borough Council said:
'The direct economic impact of increased turnover in shops, cafes, and hotels is hugely important in difficult economic times. Equally important, and with longer term effects, is the impact of SIRF on the image of the area. Businesses looking to invest in new facilities need to attract a skilled and satisfied workforce. Key business leaders consistently report that SIRF, and our wider cultural programme, has a positive effect on their decisions to locate their activities here. In a recent unprompted letter, the local Chamber of Commerce urged the Council to recognise the value of SIRF in deliberations about budget pressures.'