West Midlands culture: an antidote to the downturn?

rolerr-coaster-pic_LAAccording to the latest cultural sector economic snapshot (PDF, 360kb) published this week by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory, culture will have its role to play in the region’s post-recession recovery.

Evidence cited in the new paper suggests that West Midlands residents may be turning to culture as an antidote to the downturn.

Visitor numbers for local visitor attractions have exceeded the national average for both the October–December 2008 and January–March 2009 quarters.


The shorter average drive time radius of visitors to West Midlands Safari Park suggests that it is local people who are behind this increase, as people increasingly enjoy leisure pursuits closer to home rather than taking (relatively expensive) trips abroad.

Also, evidence cited in the latest snapshot suggests that culture has the potential to influence the region’s economic recovery (as well as social). This includes the use of cultural events to draw in visitors and boost local economies, which may have been badly hit by the downturn, and the role of the creative industries – described recently as ‘fundamental’ to the future competitiveness of British business by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in Lifting People, Lifting Places (PDF, 1.66mb).

It remains to be seen how far the cultural sector’s ability to deliver these positive impacts will be compromised if access to funding is reduced. As noted in the snapshot, evidence is now emerging of widespread cuts to local authority arts, culture and tourism budgets and/or small grant schemes. This coincides with a reduced Advantage West Midlands budget and reduced availability of funding from private investment, amounting to worrying times for many of our local cultural sector organisations.

It will certainly be important to continue to monitor the economic situation for the region’s cultural sector as it continues to unfold. The next quarterly update will be published in October 2009.

You can download the economic snapshot for the cultural sector (PDF, 360kb). Alternatively, if you would like to receive new snapshots as they become available please contact me at lauren.amery@wmro.org or 0121 202 3249. Also, please feel free to add a comment on this research below.

Photo by Stefan.

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One Response

  1. […] noted in previous blogs, it remains to be seen how far the cultural sector’s ability to continue to deliver these […]

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