New issue of Local Government Association analysis and research bulletin

Local Government AssocationThe December 2010 issue of the Local Government Association’s analysis and research bulletin (pdf, 328kb) is now available.

The bulletin highlights new research and statistics on:

  • Employment, pay and workforce trends
  • Transport
  • Housing
  • Education and children’s services
  • Environment
  • Health and social care
  • Local government
  • Europe
  • Population and migration
  • Culture, tourism and sport
  • Crime and disorder
  • Communities and place shaping

The current and previous issues are available on the Local Government Association’s website.

Endorsement of our Economic Inclusion research

Here’s a short video featuring Trudi Elliott, Chair of the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel, endorsing our economic inclusion research:

Watch on viddler

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.

Related links

Making the CASE for culture

Last month saw the culmination of a Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) project to bring together a range of statistics and figures on the impact of culture at local, regional and national level. In addition to individual summary reports for each English region, you can download recent data on:

  • Economic impact (xls, 6.7mb) – employment, turnover etc. within cultural organisations.
  • Investment data – levels of public/private investment in capital (xls, 1.8mb) and non-capital (xls, 7.9mb) cultural projects.
  • Tourism data (xls, 613kb) – overnight visits by domestic tourists, visits to visitor attractions etc.
  • Education data (xls, 4.9mb) – number of Higher Education students for cultural subjects etc.
  • Engagement data (xls, 915kb) – levels of participation in cultural activity.
  • Physical assets data (xls, 1.3mb) – count, percentage and density of cultural assets.

Notably, some of the spreadsheets also contain wider demographic data that gives a useful hint as to the kind of analyses users could undertake.

For example, the working age population data for each local authority and region (contained in the investment spreadsheets) allows users to calculate investment per head of working age population (or per 10,000 of working age population as in the summary reports) without having to hunt high and low for the population data separately!

For further advice on how to use the data contact CASE (case [at] culture.gsi.gov.uk). Alternatively, feel free to contact us here at the Cultural Observatory (lauren.amery [at] artscouncil.org.uk / tel 0121 631 5705).

Related links

Notes

‘CASE’ is a joint DCMS research programme involving Sport England, Arts Council England, English Heritage and Museums, Libraries & Archives Council (MLA).

The definition of ‘culture’ used in the research focuses on those sectors most relevant to the CASE partnership, consisting of Arts Council England, English Heritage, Museums, Librarires and Archives Council and Sport England. So, for example, while data on tourism can be downloaded separately, tourism sector organisations such as hotels and restaurants have not been factored into ‘CASE sector’ analyses.

Thousands of visits generated by West Midlands Open Weekend 2010 celebrations

People photographing self-portraits at New Art Gallery in Walsall

A report launched today by the Cultural Observatory (in association with Arts Council England) has found that local events held in July as part of the London 2012 Open Weekend celebrations generated in excess of 10,000 visits and attracted a total audience of over 46,000.

Our report, London 2012 Open Weekend 2010 in the West Midlands: post-event survey summary report (pdf, 211kb) contains the results of survey research with a sample of event attendees.

Surveys asked whether people were visiting local areas specifically to attend events (as opposed to visiting areas for other primary reasons such as shopping, or visiting friends). Based on the results of this question, we estimated over 10,000 visits were directly generated by events.

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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

Inward investment into the West Midlands 2009/10 – a local analysis

In 2009/10 there were 84 inward investment successes in the West Midlands and another four knowledge-based investments. These investments created over 1,500 new jobs and safeguarded another 4,300.

Although these 88 investments represented the lowest number of jobs created or safeguarded since 1992/93, they also represented the 7th highest total number of projects since 1991.

Pie chart shows 38 inward investments in West Midlands metropolitan areas and 49 inward investments in the shire counties over 2009 to 2010Inward investment is usually spread reasonably evenly between the West Midlands metropolitan areas and the shire counties. In 2009/10 the shire counties attracted the majority of inward investment projects (55%). See left.

However, the metropolitan areas of Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton have attracted perhaps just over half of the projects over the years – see below. The number of jobs created and safeguarded also generally follows a similar pattern.

Stacked bar chart shows percentage of inward investments into West Midlands metropolitan areas versus shire counties between 1991 and 2010

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The multiple risk factors of worklessness

By isolating the ‘risk factors’ and certain combinations of ‘risk factors’ associated with a person’s chance of being out of work, new analysis from the West Midlands Observatory can help decision makers get to grips with the complex interplay of issues behind the current high rate of worklessness across the West Midlands.

The research is already informing the Department for Work and Pensions in its review of welfare policy, as it provides insights into the major factors influencing a person’s chances of being in or out of work. It shows that these chances can vary greatly according to the individual’s background and personal characteristics. The research demonstrates how combinations of factors such as having no formal qualifications or a long-term health problem or disability, or being a lone parent, affect a person’s chance of being out of work.

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Up-skilling and diversification are key to growth and job creation across the West Midlands

Targeting investment on higher value added sectors such as digital media and medical technologies, and developing a workforce with the right skills to service those sectors would significantly increase job growth and the prosperity of the West Midlands according to new research.

The research (pdf, 498kb), undertaken by the West Midlands Observatory, shows that the potential benefits of targeting investment are substantial. If workforce skill levels in the West Midlands were increased to match the England average, growth in Gross Value Added (GVA) — the measure of economic output per head of population — over the next 5 years would increase by 2 percentage points from 10% to 12% and net new job creation would nearly double from 11,000 to 21,000. If in addition more businesses in higher value added sectors and clusters were attracted to the West Midlands, so that their share of economic activity reflected the position nationally, GVA would grow by some 23% by 2015 and more than 200,000 net new jobs would be created.

Local authorities, business groups and other key partners across the West Midlands are looking to achieve sustainable economic growth in jobs and GVA over the next 5 years. This new research shows how, in a time of austerity and funding cuts, the Observatory can provide authoritative and objective research to help decision makers target limited resources and do more with less.

The research (pdf, 498kb) provides an insight into the region’s existing and likely future skill needs. It has been produced to inform the development of skills and investment priorities that focus shrinking levels of public sector investment in areas that will maximise  impact.

A range of key investment locations across the region, including Longbridge and Eastside in Birmingham, Ansty Park in Coventry, i54 in Staffordshire, Coventry and Wolverhampton city centres and Dudley, Telford, Walsall and West Bromwich town centres, can play a key part in diversifying local economies.

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The new optimists

Written by leading scientists from the West Midlands, The new optimists is a book detailing the reponses of over 80 scientists to the question”What are you optimistic about?”

The scientists who feature in the book are leading medics, life scientists, engineers, chemists, computer and digital media scientists, environmental and energy experts, all of whom work in the West Midlands.

The official book launch is on 14th September at a celebration dinner in Birmingham, on the evening of the first day of the 2010 British Science Festival which is being held in the city.

Weaknesses in the West Midlands economy act as a drag on future prospects

There’s a need to drive sustainable economic growth in the West Midlands, which in turn can foster the investment and business success that will create job growth. This requires giving priority to growth sectors and the development of a world class skills base.

However, the Observatory’s new report, The West Midlands economy post recession: key issues and challenges (pdf, 844kb), highlights continuing under representation of higher value added sectors.

Lower value added private sector activities such as low value business services, wholesale and retail, hotels and catering, and cultural, recreational and sporting activities make a particularly significant contribution to the regional economy. These account for more than half of GVA and employment.

Share of employment in the West Midlands by broad sector in 2008

Share of employment in the West Midlands by broad sector in 2008

Source: Office for National Statistics Annual Business Enquiry
Share this chart | Data on Google Docs

Traditional private sector industries such as engineering and transport technologies, other manufacturing activities such as the interiors and lifestyle, and food and drink clusters, construction and building technologies also make a significant contribution. So do public sector activities such as public administration, education, and health and social care.

These sectors are an important source of jobs for people with fewer skills and can play a key role in reducing worklessness and economic and social deprivation.

But reducing the dependence of the West Midlands economy on these activities and attracting and developing more businesses in higher value added sectors such as higher value added business & professional services, environmental technologies, digital media and medical technologies is key to improving the West Midlands’ economic performance and generating more new highly skilled jobs.

However, to date, these sectors have generated only limited levels of GVA and employment.

As a result, the private sector in the West Midlands has grown relatively slowly in recent years. Between 1998–2008 employment increased by just 30,000 (growth of 2% which compares to an increase of 19% across the UK as a whole).

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