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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