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

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Cultural Observatory update: what we’re working on

Millennium Point in Birmnigham

This post is intended to give a run down of the main pieces of work that will be undertaken by the Cultural Observatory during 2010/11.

Our work plan is not set in stone as we are often called to respond to policy needs as and when they develop (in common with many public sector organisations), but hopefully this short post will give you a flavour of our aspirations for the coming year.

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Tweets, whistles and gold: an overview of the Cultural Research Conference 2010

The first Cultural Research & Intelligence Network (CRAIN) conference took place on 2nd June 2010 at Birmingham City University (School of Art) in central Birmingham.

The conference was well attended, attracting 41 delegates who between them represented 26 different organisations (including five local authorities and four local universities).

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West Midlanders more likely to rate their last arts experience as ‘high quality’

A detailed review (pdf, 3.5mb) of the arts-related Taking Part Survey (2008/09) results published by Arts Council England has found that arts attendees in the West Midlands are more likely to describe their last arts experience as ‘high quality’ compared to other regions.

When statistical differences are taken into account, the proportion of residents reporting high quality arts experiences in the West Midlands (66%) was higher than proportions in four other regions.

In line with national trends, compared to the previous year, the proportion of West Midlands residents participating in at least one annual arts activity took a statistically significant drop from 47.2% to 42.7%. Also, there was no (statistical) change in the proportion of residents attending at least one art event per year (62.1%) compared to the previous year (64.7%).

Given the evidence (documented in our quarterly recession monitoring papers) that certain sections of the arts sector saw audiences decrease during the 2008/09 economic downturn, it can be speculated that the fall in participation rates may be related to consumer patterns during the recession.

Download the report: Arts engagement in England 2008/2009 (pdf, 3.46mb)

Photo by Gabriela Camerotti

New ‘two million’ sports participation indicator developed to measure Olympic legacy

Two footballersA new sports participation indicator (pdf, 313kb) has been developed to measure progress towards the government target of getting two million more adults physically active in England by 2012/13 (as part of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games).

The two million indicator (pdf, 313kb), measured through the Active People Survey, gives the percentage of adults (aged 16+) that do three or more sessions (lasting 30 minutes or more) of moderate intensity activity per week.

The indicator differs from the three other Active People participation variables (KPI 1, NI 8, 1 Million) as it incorporates everyday activities such as gardening.

Each region will play a part in the achievement of the target. Broadly speaking, and if all regions play an equal role, a quota of 220,000 more West Midlanders will need to fulfil the ‘two million’ criteria by 2013 (compared to 2008).

The positive regional results of Active People Survey 3 (2008/09) bodes well for achieving this new target. Compared to the previous year’s results, the West Midlands saw a statistically significant increase in levels of participation in sport and active recreation for all participation indicators (KPI 1, NI 8 , 1 Million). Using KPI 1 as an example, the increase in participation seen in the region equated to an increase of 49,000 residents.

Related links

Photo by GregDaly

West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012: the impact so far

Two people jumping in the airThe West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012 (WMCPforL2012) has attracted a total audience of just under a quarter of a million people (220,000), according to a report (pdf, 1.5mb) launched by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory this month. That’s around two and a half Wembley Stadiums full of people for those of you that like to visualise these things!

In the first of a series of reports, West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012: An evaluation of impact (2008-2010) (pdf, 1.5mb) presents evidence associated with:

  • The social and economic impact of the programme to date
  • The extent and value of media coverage that for the programme
  • The programme’s impact on the capacity of the West Midlands cultural sector
  • Changes in peoples’ perception of the region and its cultural offer (having taking part in programme activities and events)

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Despite a positive performance in the last quarter of 2009, the Cultural Observatory’s latest recession snapshot (pdf, 311kb) suggests the West Midlands’ cultural sector is facing a period of ‘funding uncertainty’.

Evidence highlighted in the paper suggests that while many local cultural organisations remain optimistic about the short-term stability of core funding sources, perception of funding security is low compared to confidence levels pre-recession.

Spines of books on a shelf in a libraryIn the Cultural Observatory’s own economic survey with local cultural organisations, 72% of respondents stated that they were ‘less optimistic’ about the stability of core funding sources compared to 2007.

Against a backdrop of funding concerns, the research shows that the cultural sector continued to see increases in numbers of customers through the door in the last three months of 2009, building on the unusually high increase in footfall seen over the summer.

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