Comparing the VAGA member business models to a wider ACE RFO sample

This is the third topic in the Culture Benchmark data analysis series.  Earlier we looked at Combined Artform Venues (CAV) and Welsh and English RFOs. This post looks at how The Visual Arts and Galleries Association (VAGA) compares to a wider Arts Council England (ACE) Revenue Funded Organisations (RFO) sample.

A number of things merit exploration:

  • Looking at the grant revenue sources we see a higher level of dependence on ACE grants (47.5% in 2009 and 52.3% in 2010) amongst these VAGA (ie visual arts) members than that shown by the wider sample of ACE revenue funded organisations (40.9% in 2009 and 45.6% in 2010). Both groups show an increase in the percentage of total income from ACE in 2010. We would need to investigate the reasons for this further before being able to give a definite answer as to the reason but we’d hazard a guess that it was generally harder to generate earned income and that the actual amount from ACE will have stayed pretty much the same in absolute terms but represents a larger percentage of a (smaller) total income.
  • Interestingly this is true not only for the overall ACE sample of but also for the subset of £1-3m turnover organisations (ACE RFO funds representing 32.2% and 29.9% in 2009 and 2010 respectively) which we added in to provide a sample which was of similar average income to the VAGA members, more similar than the overall ACE RFO sample.
  • Whilst income from Trusts & Foundations is slightly below the ACE RFO sample average – VAGA 9.2% : ACE RFO 10.9% in 2009 and VAGA 6.5% : ACE RFO 11.8% in 2010 they are roughly on a par with the £1-3m ACE RFO’s in the second sample group (9.5% and 5.3% respectively)
  • The counter balance to this are the levels of funding achieved from Local Authority sources where VAGA members do slightly better than the average ACE RFO – VAGA 13.0% : ACE RFO 12.3% in 2009 and VAGA 16.9% : ACE RFO 12.3% in 2010. The variation in the £1-3m ACE RFO sample between 2009 and 2010
  • Whilst it is not surprising that few of the VAGA sample (less than 3 which is why the figure is withheld) receive Grant in Aid it is a little more surprising that an equally small number receive money from their Local Authority. This needs further investigation.
  • The overall level of grant funding for the VAGA sample is an average of 73.8% vs. the ACE RFO sample where the average is 65% and the £1-3m ACE RFO’s at 55.6% in 2009. The picture for 2010 is similar with VAGA 76.8% : ACE RFO 69.0% : £1-3m ACE RFO 52.4%. It would appear that the visual arts organisations are more dependent upon grant funding than the arts & culture sector in general. This is in line with the findings of Susan Royce’s research for Turning Point.
  • As well as being more grant dependent they achieve a smaller percentage of their income from ticket sales, shop & retail, café & space hire (i.e. their tangible assets) than the rest of the non-profit culture sector … this is true individually for these areas but also for the average total income from tangible assets VAGA 18.1% : ACE RFO 27.1% : £1-3m ACE RFO 35.5% in 2009.
  • On the other hand they do better than the £1-3m ACE RFO’s when it comes to the exploitation of intangible assets to achieve earned income VAGA 14.7% : ACE RFO 18.3% : £1-3m ACE RFO 13.9% in 2009 and VAGA 21.4% : ACE RFO 16.6% : £1-3m ACE RFO 16.6%

Notes on the data:

  • The contents of each column cannot be added up vertically to reach 100%. For a detailed explanation of this see
  • The data above is not from matched samples so any analysis cannot be conclusive at this stage but the data can be used to raise questions for further research.
  • The data is has not been gathered to be representative of either of the RFO portfolios ie no attention has been paid to the covering of all sectors in proportion with their inclusion in the RFO portfolio. It is also possible that there is element of regional bias as we have not set up the sample group to ensure that such bias is avoided.
  • The data above is not the full data set. There is considerably more detail in the income from intangible assets than is shown above. There is also data on both direct and indirect costs. For an overview of all the lines of data see for an example

4 thoughts on “Comparing the VAGA member business models to a wider ACE RFO sample

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