Report for DCMS on improving cultural sector data published next steps

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Sarah Thelwall

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MyCake and The Audience Agency’s scoping study into the need for better data about the UK's cultural economy, as highlighted by the pandemic, has been published with three phases of practical recommendations.

One of the many lessons learned in amongst the shocks of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was the vital need for access to better data about the cultural economy. As government moved to support the cultural sector during the various lockdowns, it rapidly became clear that the data describing the sector was patchy and did not paint an accurate picture.

To address this problem MyCake and The Audience Agency were commissioned by DCMS to develop their understanding of possible ways to strengthen data on the cultural sector, especially the availability and quality of financial data.

We found that data about the cultural economy is published by many different institutions both inside and outside the sector. Some is published by cultural organisations, some by arm’s-length bodies, regulators and funders and some by different government departments. It’s not ‘interoperable’ i.e. it’s not possible to easily combine datasets to derive better insight.

Our report makes 11 recommendations that would transform the collection and use of data in the cultural sector:

Short term recommendations:

1. Build a cultural sector data platform.

2. Build shared leadership around cultural sector data.

3. Develop common standards and indicators.

4. Link datasets.

Medium-term recommendations:

5. Develop standard approaches to classifying cultural sector entities.

6. Collect financial data from subsector surveys.

7. Improve regulatory data.

8. Modernise data acquisition/analysis to support sustainable cultural data.

Long-term recommendations:

9. Encourage common reporting formats.

10. Generate more timely data for shorter periods.

11. Generate more timely data for shorter periods.

Read the Full Report on the DCMS Website