The economic benefits of culture

The Arts Council has a programme of research to explore how publicly funded cultural provision relates to the creative economy and the wider economy. Projects within this theme are:

  • guidance for measuring the economic benefits of cultural organisations and events
  • research into career paths between the subsidised arts and culture sector and commercial creative industries
  • a study of the contribution of the arts and museums sectors to the wider economy in England

Guidance on measuring the economic benefits of arts and cultural organisations and events

Understanding the economic contribution of arts and cultural organisations we fund is both an important advocacy tool and is crucial to making the arts more sustainable. Organisations which can demonstrate their economic contribution can use this evidence to make the case for local and sub-regional funding and to understand how to extend their impact.

To support this, we have published guidance to help organisations who are undertaking or commissioning studies into the economic benefits of their work. The guidance aims to help organisations choose appropriate and robust methodologies and uses case studies to illustrate the benefits and limitations of different approaches to measuring economic contribution. It outlines the information needed to apply research methodologies in appropriate and consistent ways.

The guidance is written by BOP consulting, and draws on a review of the literature on the benefits and challenges of various measurement approaches carried out by Matti Allam, a previous member of the Arts Council's research team.

This guidance updates previous Arts Council research on measuring the economic and social benefits of arts and culture.

Career paths between the publicly funded arts and cultural sectors and commercial creative industries

This project is a research partnership with Creative and Cultural Skills and NESTA. It seeks to explore the multi-dimensional relationship between the publicly funded arts and the commercial creative industries by examining the flow of talent between these sectors. Focusing on individual career pathways is one potential way of approaching this topic and as a first step we have focused on the theatre sector where there is much anecdotal evidence of the flow of talent between subsidised and commercial settings.

We commissioned TBR and BOP Consulting to undertake a talent survey of the theatre workforce looking at movements between subsidised and commercial work settings and the wider creative industries, and their links with other aspects of professional artistic practice.

The survey was administered through open online promotion between 1 April and 1 June 2012, eliciting 1,129 responses. The questions were drafted to derive quantitative results, although some qualitative material was also gathered. The research was published in June 2013 and is available from the Creative Blueprint website.

The contribution of the arts and culture to the national economy

The third element of this programme of research seeks to develop a clear and robust account of the contribution that the arts and museums sectors make to the economy at a national level.

We are working with the Centre for Economics and Business Research in order to measure this economic contribution, which will include both an analysis of the direct contribution on macro indicators (such as GVA, employment, productivity and growth), as well as some estimation of indirect contributions; for instance through tourism, and creating attractive locations for skilled labour. 

The project will finish in April 2013 and a report will be published soon after.