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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How can small and medium businesses prepare against climate change?

Burst banks of River Severn amid flooding in Worcester

Photo: Worcester bridge by Russell Trow

Climate change has an impact on businesses. Flooding, hot summers, droughts and severe storms and winds can damage business premises and disrupt suppliers and customers.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Business directly impacted by the 2007 floods took an average of 26 weeks to return to normal operating capacity. Some small businesses can take up to two years to recover from a flood – and some do not survive.
  • Rail commuters in Birmingham endured extensive delays on 17 July 2006 as the extreme heat caused railway lines to buckle. Many services from New Street Station in Birmingham had to be cancelled and some passengers had to wait more than two hours.
  • The flooding in July 2007 was caused by a month’s rainfall in 1–2 hours and caused interruptions to electricity and water supplies, and significant disruption to road and rail networks.
  • After the flooding in June and July 2007, insurers received 165,000 claims in the UK, estimated to total £3bn in insured damages. Economic and social costs were far higher, as not all costs to businesses can be insured.

The West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Partnership knows that it is crucial that businesses understand the consequences of climate change. This is why they released a practical guide explaining how small and medium businesses in the West Midlands can save and make money from climate change (pdf, 357kb).

Planning and being prepared are the way forward as opposed to just reacting whenever disaster hits. This will allow businesses to save money in the long term, continue operations in spite of the weather and identify potential business opportunities.

The guide provides a series of questions that business should consider around:

  • Insurance
  • Premises
  • People
  • Utilities
  • Information technology and security of data
  • Suppliers, logistics and delivery and products
  • Processes, stock and raw materials
  • Agricultural and horticultural rural business
  • Emergency contacts and important documents

The guide also provides examples of opportunities for small businesses, useful tools and contact details of regional support available.

Photo credit: Worcester bridge by Russell Trow.

Unemployment in West Midlands fallen but still not back to pre-recession levels

Updated monthly data on the West Midlands labour market were released today by the Office for National Statistics.

Key headlines

  • Unemployment in the West Midlands has fallen — by 66,000 people over the last year, and 27,000 people in the last quarter. There are, however, 59,000 more unemployed people in the West Midlands than in February 2008.
  • Unemployment has fallen faster in the West Midlands than anywhere else in the country over the last year and in the last quarter. However, unemployment rose more sharply here than elsewhere earlier in the recession, so essentially this is a rebalancing of employment levels.
  • We’re not out of the woods yet. Employment levels have not yet reached their pre-​recession levels, and we’re expecting a significant loss of public sector jobs in the coming months, which could wipe out the recent drop in unemployment altogether.

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Place Survey abolished

The Place Survey, one of the largest surveys in Europe that was due to be conducted by local authorities this autumn, was formally abolished yesterday by Local Government Minister, Grant Shapps.

This follows on from the scrapping of Comprehensive Area Assessments by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in June 2010.

Read the announcement on Communities and Local Government.

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