New research on the impact of culture in the West Midlands

Culture and prosperity report coverNew research produced by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory has boosted understanding of the social and economic role that culture has played in the West Midlands over recent years.

Long term economic trends suggest that the sector is expanding, employing more people and increasing its GVA and turnover output year-on-year.

For example, the Culture & Prosperity (PDF, 1.2MB) paper describes how the region’s creative industries had a 36% increase in turnover between 2004 and 2007: a level which exceeded the national average increase in turnover for creative industries (+13%) and the average growth in turnover within the whole West Midlands economy (+19%) over the same period.

This result is suggestive of the growing national importance of the region as a base for creative firms.

Particular economic strengths include a strong regional computer games and software industry (19% of the UK’s computer games workforce is based in the West Midlands) and the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon which accounts for over 40% of the economic contribution made by West Midlands’ theatre.

Culture, people and place report coverThe accompanying paper Culture, People & Place (PDF, 1.6MB) provides a review of evidence associated with the social, educational and environmental impact of culture in the region.

This includes an exploration of the region’s ‘cultural offer’. Recent research has suggested, for example, that the region has a number of internationally significant cultural assets including:

  • Villa Park
  • Ironbridge Gorge
  • Warwick Castle
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet

These unique attractions may positively influence people’s perception of the region as a place to live and visit.

However, to balance these findings, other research tells us that the region’s residents are less likely to participate in many forms of culture compared with other regions.

For example, the West Midlands has the lowest level of participation in sport and active recreation of any English region. When this information is combined with data which tells us that people from BME backgrounds are less likely to participate in culture than their White counterparts, some of the areas for development become apparent.

Hopefully this short introduction has left you wanting to know more. Why not download the reports and tell us what you think of them?

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