Latest news on the case for arts and culture


Last week the argument for continued government funding for arts and culture ratcheted up a notch with the release of a new report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research  looking into the economic contribution of the arts and culture. The first of its kind and commissioned by Arts Council England, the report included key findings that, hopefully, should really help make the case for continued government spend on culture in time for the Treasury’s spending review. These include:

  • arts and culture make up 0.4% of GDP – a significant return on the less than 0.1% of government spending invested in the sector – that’s a greater return on investment (ROI) than the health, wholesale and retail, and professional and business services sectors
  • the arts and culture sector provides 0.45% of total UK employment and 0.48% of total employment in England
  • at least £856 million per annum of spending by tourists visiting the UK can be attributed directly to arts and culture

You can read The Audience Agency’s response to the report here, but we’re delighted to see the CEBR recognising not only the economic benefits of arts and culture, but also recording the contribution to the ‘people economy’ and spillover benefits to employability, personal productivity and well-being. As John Kay says in his blog post the real value of arts and culture lies in “the contribution – direct or indirect – the activity makes to the welfare of ordinary citizens”.

At The Audience Agency we’ve been working with cultural partners across the country on the creation of a major new evidence based initiative designed to develop our collective understanding of audiences to inform effective and efficient business planning. We are currently working with clusters of organisations to shape, share and compare market research and intelligence through an easy to use online resource analysing existing and new audience data.

With over 165 performing and visual arts organisations signing up and two clusters actively collecting data it’s really starting to gather pace. We’re excited to announce that individual organisations (independent of clusters) will be eligible to sign up this summer. Data specialists Purple Seven are helping power the project. They’ve just announced exciting news in the form of new investors and we’re discussing how these developments will enhance our work together.

As this Audience Focus strand of work has been funded by ACE, NPOs can access this programme for free as part of their funding agreements. Non-NPOs can still access resources and we’ve designed flexible cost options depending on the level of requirements. We will be announcing more details soon but for more information, please contact

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