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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Cultural sector recession survey – can you help?

The West Midlands cultural sector recession survey for the October–December 2009 quarter is now live.

If you work in the region’s cultural sector we’d appreciate your help in getting the word out.

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BIG research quantifies the benefits of investment in sports facilities

Research into the impact of the Big Lottery-funded New Opportunities for PE and Sport programme (NOPES) has captured valuable information about some of the benefits of investment in sport.

The research (PDF, 452kb), which included a survey with nearly 2,000 young people, sought to quantify the impact of NOPES, which involved a £751 million investment in PE and sport facilities and activities across the UK (2002-2009).

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Consumers choose to spend their cash on cultural attractions when the going gets tough according to West Midlands Cultural Observatory

They said it would happen and according to research published this week by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory it is happening: the recession has caused consumers to be more selective about what cultural products and services they spend their cash on.

Evidence cited in the latest recession paper suggests that over the Spring and Summer months, people have been saving money on accommodation, but continuing to spend on visits to cultural attractions such as museums, historic houses and visitor attractions when visiting in the region.

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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.

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Latest recession research highlights contrasting fortunes of cultural organisations in the West Midlands

Curving celing at NEC BirminghamConsumers are behaving in unusual ways and this is having a conflicting impact on our region’s cultural venues.

While our visitor attractions are bucking the national trend and attracting more visitors, there continues to be cause for concern amongst architectural, advertising, arts and business tourism professionals, many of whom are battling against a tide of reduced business and cash availability.

According to new recession research (doc, 284kb) published this week by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory, regional visitor attractions may be benefitting from an increasing tendency for people to enjoy leisure pursuits closer to home.

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Guidance for local authorities undertaking research into culture

Stratford Royal Shakespeare theatre at nightEver read through a research report and wished that you could have the same types of information for the geographical area that you live and work in?

With this in mind, the West Midlands Cultural Observatory has just published a guidance paper (Word, 226KB) aimed at local authorities in the West Midlands who want to replicate the research presented in the two recent evidence papers:

This includes, for example, research into:

  • Numbers of people employed by cultural and creative industries.
  • Rates of participation in cultural pursuits such as visits to museums and art galleries and participation in sport.
  • Cultural attractions based in the area.

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