Participating in culture and sport equivalent to a pay rise?

Research funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has suggested that the boost to individuals’ wellbeing achieved through weekly participation in sport is equivalent to £11,000 per year in household income. Cinema (c.£9,000) and concert (c.£9,000) attendance are not far behind in terms of annual ‘value’.

The research, Understanding the value of engagement in culture and sport (pdf, 291kb), which is based on a statistical analysis of the British Household Panel Survey, estimates the equivalent boost in household income required to achieve the same boost in wellbeing generated by cultural participation.

The work is something of a departure from previous estimates (such as those which calculate the monetary value of sport by referring to the cost of physical inactivity to the NHS) in that it factors in other influences on wellbeing such as socioeconomic status, thereby isolating the effect of culture.

As the authors note, the findings have the potential to guide policymakers, indicating the level of investment that may be warranted in interventions aimed at increasing participation in culture and sport.

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The generation gap: BME participation in culture found to be significantly influenced by age

New research funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport has helped to increase understanding of the factors influencing participation in culture.

Based on a statistical analysis of Taking Part 2007/08, the study, Understanding the drivers, impact and value of engagement in culture and sport (pdf, 575kb) suggests, for example, that:

  • In the cases of visiting a heritage site, attending an arts event, or visiting a museum, young people from BME and non-BME groups were found to have a similar probability of engaging in culture, while among older people those from a BME group were less likely to engage in culture. For example, older ethnic minorities were found to be around half as likely to attend arts events as older people not from ethnic minorities.
  • Households scoring ‘low’ on socio-economic measures were found to be 4 times less likely to engage in culture than those scoring high.
  • Females were found to be 3 times less likely to participate in sport than males.
  • Probability of participation in culture during adulthood is positively correlated with childhood participation levels.

While some of the trends highlighted in the study are familiar (and the subject of past research), the methodological approach taken by authors provides us with authoritative percentages and figures against known trends.

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Sport England Active People Survey analysis tool updated and ready to be interrogated!

For those who haven’t tried it yet, the Sport England Active People Diagnostic is a website for viewing and investigating the results of the Active People Survey: an annual survey which captures levels of participation in sport (and culture) amongst over 16s at local, regional and national geographies.

The tool has recently been updated to include Active People Survey 3 (2008/09) data, which means is it possible to run analyses comparing sports participation trends over time (since 2005/06).

It’s worth noting that it’s also now possible to access the results of the (non-sport) cultural national indicators — NI 9 (library participation), NI 10 (museum/gallery participation) and NI 11 (art participation) — via the tool for the year 2008, but, as yet, the tool does not contain comparative data for these cultural indicators.

Once you’ve registered to use the tool, a good place to start is ‘cross-tabulations’ (via the ‘Interactive’ tab), which allows you to select which data you are interested in viewing / downloading.

Visit the Sport England Active People Diagnostic

What does ‘innovation’ mean for cultural organisations anyway?

Following a preliminary discussion paper, NESTA has now published its proposal for an ‘innovation framework’ for use by cultural organisations and funders. Based on case study research with the National Theatre and Tate, authors of Culture of Innovation: An economic analysis of innovation in arts and cultural organisations suggest that ‘innovation’ within cultural organisations can happen across four main areas: audience reach, artform development, value creation and business models.

As part of the research, there is a consideration of  audience development strategies employed by the National Theatre and Tate. This includes an interesting comparison between the demographics of Gallery users and those of online audiences; for example, Tate’s web visitors during one campaign period were more likely to be female / ethnically diverse / have lower incomes than ordinary Gallery visitors. It will certainly be interesting to note whether these trends hold true as more data of this nature begins to filter through.

Download report

Photo by Demarmels

Local tourism industries generate over 6% of the region’s total economic output

According to an analysis by the Tourism Intelligence Unit at Office for National Statistics, the economic output (‘GVA’) generated by West Midlands-based tourism businesses accounts for a relatively small proportion of overall regional GVA (6.2%) compared to other parts of the UK such as the South West (8.9%) and the North West (8.3%). However, given that under some definitions of the tourism sector (such as the narrower, DCMS definition used in our Culture & Prosperity report), tourism industries appear less important to West Midlands economic output, this new paper may cause a shift in perception to a certain extent.

Boeing 777 on runway at Birmingham AirportIndeed, the paper (and its definition of the tourism sector) may trigger a reassessment of the importance of tourism to the national economy generally. For example, the finding that tourism contributes 7.1% of all GVA in the UK contrasts with a recent study commissioned by VisitBritain, which suggests the visitor economy directly generates 4.0% of UK GDP.

Notes: GVA and GDP measures are different and therefore not directly comparable, but in this instance, it was deemed useful to compare the two studies to explore different assessments of tourism contribution to the overall economy.

Download the full article

Photo by Martin O’Connell

New report confirms growth in local creative workforce

Recent work by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found a national and regional growth in the level of creative industries employment between 2006 – 2008. According to data sourced from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR), employment in creative firms across England increased by 11% (compared to a 2% average growth in employment for all sectors). The level of creative industry employment growth in the West Midlands region (+19%) was relatively high compared to other regions and, in line with national trends, was more marked than the average increase for all sectors within the region.  

These findings confirm trends reported last year in our Culture & Prosperity: the economic role of culture in the West Midlands. Although the methodology and timeframe differed slightly across the two papers, the conclusion is the same: a regional growth in creative industry employment compared to the national creative industry average and compared to the average for all regional firms.

Unfortunately, as the author of the paper points out, there are continued issues around getting hold of more recent creative industries data. Both mainstream definitions of the creative sectors (DCMS evidence toolkit & Frontier Economics) use 2003 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes – rather than the newer 2007 codes.

From 2009, the data for the IDBR has been collected based on the current SIC 2007 codes, something which poses problems for cultural researchers in that the process of converting 2003 codes to 2007 codes leads to data that is not exactly comparable with pre-2009 data. This situation could be seen as problematic during the aftermath of a recession when a clear picture of the economic situation is particularly helpful.

Download the report and accompanying dataset

Notes: The ‘official’ definition of the creative industries sectors used by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) remains that documented in the DCMS Evidence Toolkit. The Frontier Economics definition, although widely known, remains experiential at this time. 

Photo by Dean Terry

Cultural Observatory update: what we’re working on

Millennium Point in Birmnigham

This post is intended to give a run down of the main pieces of work that will be undertaken by the Cultural Observatory during 2010/11.

Our work plan is not set in stone as we are often called to respond to policy needs as and when they develop (in common with many public sector organisations), but hopefully this short post will give you a flavour of our aspirations for the coming year.

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Tweets, whistles and gold: an overview of the Cultural Research Conference 2010

The first Cultural Research & Intelligence Network (CRAIN) conference took place on 2nd June 2010 at Birmingham City University (School of Art) in central Birmingham.

The conference was well attended, attracting 41 delegates who between them represented 26 different organisations (including five local authorities and four local universities).

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Slidecast: impact of West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012 so far

Here’s a slidecast by Lauren Amery, Cultural Research Analyst at the Observatory, summarising her research to monitor and evaluate the impact of the West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012.

Get the PowerPoint slides (ppt, 860kb)

The first of a series of reports, West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012: An evaluation of impact (2008–2010) (pdf, 1.54mb) published 13th April 2010, presents evidence associated with:

  • The social and economic impact of the programme to date
  • The extent and value of media coverage that for the programme
  • The programme’s impact on the capacity of the West Midlands cultural sector
  • Changes in peoples’ perception of the region and its cultural offer (having taking part in programme activities and events)

For more information about the research contact Lauren Amery (lauren.amery@wmro.org / 0121 202 3249).

West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012: the impact so far

Two people jumping in the airThe West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012 (WMCPforL2012) has attracted a total audience of just under a quarter of a million people (220,000), according to a report (pdf, 1.5mb) launched by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory this month. That’s around two and a half Wembley Stadiums full of people for those of you that like to visualise these things!

In the first of a series of reports, West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012: An evaluation of impact (2008-2010) (pdf, 1.5mb) presents evidence associated with:

  • The social and economic impact of the programme to date
  • The extent and value of media coverage that for the programme
  • The programme’s impact on the capacity of the West Midlands cultural sector
  • Changes in peoples’ perception of the region and its cultural offer (having taking part in programme activities and events)

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Research suggests mounting problems for gaming firms

NESTA’s recent report It’s Time to Play suggests the UK video games sector faces ‘serious and mounting problems’ as a result of a variety of factors including the emerging trend for experienced staff to leave the UK in favour of competitor countries where government support is strong.

The report, based on a survey of 30 leading British video games developers, suggests widespread support among respondents for introduction of tax credit for cultural games.

Research in this field carries a particular relevance to the West Midlands which is host to 19% of the UK’s gaming workforce (Burns Owens Partnership, 2007) and a cluster of high profile game developers including Codemasters, Blitz, Freestyle Games and the Serious Games Institute.

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West Midlands residents’ engagement in the arts remained stable since 2005

A new briefing (pdf, 241kb) published by Arts Council England uses Taking Part survey data to examine the trends in arts engagement across the three year period from 2005/06 to 2007/08.

In the West Midlands, the proportion of population to have attended at least one arts event over a 12 month period has remained stable, with no statistically significant difference in the level of attendees in 2007/08 (64.7%) to that of previous years.

There was, however, a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of West Midlands residents to have participated in arts activities in 2007/08 (42.4%) compared to the 2006/07 rate (46.9%).

Nationally, the rate of arts attendance and arts participation remained stable at around 67% and 47% respectively. Continue reading

Volunteers in West Midlands museums and galleries outnumber paid employees by more than 2:1

Forthcoming research from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council will highlight the abundance of volunteers working within local museums and galleries.

Given the increasing interest in the role of volunteering can play in keeping people ‘job ready’ during the recession, this finding may well attract interest from beyond the heritage sector.

Along with a detailed look at the profile of the workforce, Fast Forward 2008 will provide an update on a range of variables, including levels of visiting and average service standards (disability access, audience development, and so on) within West Midlands museums.

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Adults who live in areas with higher concentrations of historic environment are likely to have a stronger sense of place

Research launched by English Heritage has found a significant link between an adult’s ‘sense of place’ and the concentration of historic environment assets within their area.

Sense of Place and Social Capital and the Historic Built Environment (pdf, 884kb), launched simultaneously with Heritage Counts 2009, involved surveys with 500 adults and 700 teenagers from across England.

Respondents were asked to score how strongly they agreed with a series of statements such as ‘I could be equally happy living elsewhere’ and ‘I am proud of where I live.’

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Large variation in West Midlanders’ satisfaction with local theatres and concert halls

According to the first ever Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) Place Survey results, the proportion of West Midlands residents satisfied with theatres and concert halls is the most variable indicator across the region, ranging from 76% in Malvern Hills to a low of 18% in North Warwickshire.

However, overall satisfaction with theatres and concert halls in the region (45%) exceeded the national average (43%).

In addition, compared to all other regions, West Midlands residents were the least satisfied with local sport and leisure facilities.

These two results, which carry implications for some of the region’s local cultural service providers, were highlighted as headline findings by colleagues at the West Midlands Regional Observatory as part of their detailed Place Survey 2008 analysis.

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