Forthcoming research from the West Midlands Cultural Observatory

You may be interested to know about research currently being conducted at the West Midlands Cultural Observatory.

Over the next year, we will be producing three evidence papers which draw together what we know about the impact of culture on ‘prosperity’, ‘people’ and ‘place’ in the West Midlands. Not only will this help to inform regional policy, the aim is that the papers will also provide a useful reference tool for everyone in the sector needing to ‘make the case’ for culture.

The first paper to be developed will look at the economic impact of culture, building on Culture West Midland’s Growing the Cultural Economy in the West Midlands (2007) report. The 2007 study estimated that the region’s cultural sector accounts for:

  • 12.5% of the region’s Gross Value Added (from a total turnover of £18 billion p/a)
  • 10.1% of the region’s employment
  • 14.5% of businesses in the region

These were actually conservative estimates, using a methodology which only focused on clear-cut cultural activity (excluding chunks of cultural activity hidden within other industries) – the ‘real’ figures are likely to be significantly higher.  It will certainly be interesting to see how this year’s estimates compare.

I’d be very interested to hear from you about this topic:

  • Are you interested in this research and want to know more about what we’re doing?
  • Do you have some research or data on these topics that you think we should know about?
  • Some would argue that the economic ‘value’ of the cultural sector is less relevant than its social value. For example, the power of culture as a means of boosting people’s quality of life and a means of bringing people together in a united way. Do you agree? How much ‘value’ should we attribute to culture in the West Midlands?
  • Have you ever thought about the impact of culture on the way you behave? Does local culture strongly influence where you choose to live and visit, or are other factors more important?

Why not enter the debate by adding a comment to this post? Alternatively, please feel free to email me with your thoughts at We look forward to hearing from you.

2 Responses

  1. Great idea. How open is your data. how easy wold it be for people to use it for other purposes?

  2. Hi Nick – thanks for your post, glad you like the idea. In answer to your questions:
    i) The report and accompanying technical report will be made available widely available e.g. it will be published on the WMRO website. The technical report will include detailed references to the data sources used, should people be interested in following this up.
    ii) I would say it will be very easy to use the research for other purposes. The research will not just present ‘headline figures’ for the cultural sector as a whole, we will be delving into the economic performance of individual sub sectors such as ‘visual art’, ‘heritage’ etc, so people will be able to extract the information most relevant to their line of work if they choose.
    I hope that answers your question?

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