Participating in culture and sport equivalent to a pay rise?

Research funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has suggested that the boost to individuals’ wellbeing achieved through weekly participation in sport is equivalent to £11,000 per year in household income. Cinema (c.£9,000) and concert (c.£9,000) attendance are not far behind in terms of annual ‘value’.

The research, Understanding the value of engagement in culture and sport (pdf, 291kb), which is based on a statistical analysis of the British Household Panel Survey, estimates the equivalent boost in household income required to achieve the same boost in wellbeing generated by cultural participation.

The work is something of a departure from previous estimates (such as those which calculate the monetary value of sport by referring to the cost of physical inactivity to the NHS) in that it factors in other influences on wellbeing such as socioeconomic status, thereby isolating the effect of culture.

As the authors note, the findings have the potential to guide policymakers, indicating the level of investment that may be warranted in interventions aimed at increasing participation in culture and sport.

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What does ‘innovation’ mean for cultural organisations anyway?

Following a preliminary discussion paper, NESTA has now published its proposal for an ‘innovation framework’ for use by cultural organisations and funders. Based on case study research with the National Theatre and Tate, authors of Culture of Innovation: An economic analysis of innovation in arts and cultural organisations suggest that ‘innovation’ within cultural organisations can happen across four main areas: audience reach, artform development, value creation and business models.

As part of the research, there is a consideration of  audience development strategies employed by the National Theatre and Tate. This includes an interesting comparison between the demographics of Gallery users and those of online audiences; for example, Tate’s web visitors during one campaign period were more likely to be female / ethnically diverse / have lower incomes than ordinary Gallery visitors. It will certainly be interesting to note whether these trends hold true as more data of this nature begins to filter through.

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Photo by Demarmels

Local tourism industries generate over 6% of the region’s total economic output

According to an analysis by the Tourism Intelligence Unit at Office for National Statistics, the economic output (‘GVA’) generated by West Midlands-based tourism businesses accounts for a relatively small proportion of overall regional GVA (6.2%) compared to other parts of the UK such as the South West (8.9%) and the North West (8.3%). However, given that under some definitions of the tourism sector (such as the narrower, DCMS definition used in our Culture & Prosperity report), tourism industries appear less important to West Midlands economic output, this new paper may cause a shift in perception to a certain extent.

Boeing 777 on runway at Birmingham AirportIndeed, the paper (and its definition of the tourism sector) may trigger a reassessment of the importance of tourism to the national economy generally. For example, the finding that tourism contributes 7.1% of all GVA in the UK contrasts with a recent study commissioned by VisitBritain, which suggests the visitor economy directly generates 4.0% of UK GDP.

Notes: GVA and GDP measures are different and therefore not directly comparable, but in this instance, it was deemed useful to compare the two studies to explore different assessments of tourism contribution to the overall economy.

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Photo by Martin O’Connell

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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State of the Region – image and identity of the West Midlands

West Bromwich at nightLast week, we started a new State of the Region dialogue on the image and identity of the West Midlands.

The future of the region will be determined by the decisions that individuals make – decisions such as whether to locate in the region, to invest in business or property, to study at one of our universities or to visit the region for business or leisure.

All of these decisions will be influenced by people’s view of the region’s image and identity.

A range of information is already collected, locally, regionally and nationally, about how people view the region and how it compares with other places.

There is also more general research, looking at what drives and changes image and identity. The workshop brought together different sources of evidence to determine the story they tell us about the West Midlands, summarised in the three presentations available below.

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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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West Midlands residents’ engagement in the arts remained stable since 2005

A new briefing (pdf, 241kb) published by Arts Council England uses Taking Part survey data to examine the trends in arts engagement across the three year period from 2005/06 to 2007/08.

In the West Midlands, the proportion of population to have attended at least one arts event over a 12 month period has remained stable, with no statistically significant difference in the level of attendees in 2007/08 (64.7%) to that of previous years.

There was, however, a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of West Midlands residents to have participated in arts activities in 2007/08 (42.4%) compared to the 2006/07 rate (46.9%).

Nationally, the rate of arts attendance and arts participation remained stable at around 67% and 47% respectively. Continue reading

Volunteers in West Midlands museums and galleries outnumber paid employees by more than 2:1

Forthcoming research from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council will highlight the abundance of volunteers working within local museums and galleries.

Given the increasing interest in the role of volunteering can play in keeping people ‘job ready’ during the recession, this finding may well attract interest from beyond the heritage sector.

Along with a detailed look at the profile of the workforce, Fast Forward 2008 will provide an update on a range of variables, including levels of visiting and average service standards (disability access, audience development, and so on) within West Midlands museums.

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Adults who live in areas with higher concentrations of historic environment are likely to have a stronger sense of place

Research launched by English Heritage has found a significant link between an adult’s ‘sense of place’ and the concentration of historic environment assets within their area.

Sense of Place and Social Capital and the Historic Built Environment (pdf, 884kb), launched simultaneously with Heritage Counts 2009, involved surveys with 500 adults and 700 teenagers from across England.

Respondents were asked to score how strongly they agreed with a series of statements such as ‘I could be equally happy living elsewhere’ and ‘I am proud of where I live.’

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Large variation in West Midlanders’ satisfaction with local theatres and concert halls

According to the first ever Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) Place Survey results, the proportion of West Midlands residents satisfied with theatres and concert halls is the most variable indicator across the region, ranging from 76% in Malvern Hills to a low of 18% in North Warwickshire.

However, overall satisfaction with theatres and concert halls in the region (45%) exceeded the national average (43%).

In addition, compared to all other regions, West Midlands residents were the least satisfied with local sport and leisure facilities.

These two results, which carry implications for some of the region’s local cultural service providers, were highlighted as headline findings by colleagues at the West Midlands Regional Observatory as part of their detailed Place Survey 2008 analysis.

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Cultural sector recession survey – can you help?

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

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

It’d be great if you could encourage any cultural venues and organisations based in the region that you are in contact with to complete the survey.

  • Surveys can be completed online
  • or  completed in Word (doc, 31kb)

Please return completed surveys to Lauren (lauren.amery@wmro.org) by Friday 16th October (thank you).

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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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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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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.

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Creative industries economic estimates

Gathering at the New Art Gallery WalsallThe annual creative industries economic estimates are now available from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Statistics are provided on:

  • Gross value added of the creative industries
  • Exports of services for the creative industries
  • Creative employment
  • Numbers of businesses within the creative industries in the UK

The figures are for 2006/2007, the latest available period.

Dave Harte has usefully pulled out the highlights from the figures.