Saturday 2 February 2013

Essential reading - economic impact of the arts on the City of London

A view from Waterloo Bridge, facing east towards Blackfriars bridge and the City of London. Credit Bloodholds
BOP Consulting has produced a report for the City of London Corporation. Rather fearsomely entitled The Economic, Social and Cultural Impact of the City Arts and Culture Cluster, it looks at the economic benefits of the arts within the City of London. This is a purely economic report, it doesn't look at the well-being benefits of participation in the arts, but it still makes rather impressive reading. Visitors who come for the arts events, provide significant economic benefit via their extra spending on accommodation and other extras. And the arts are reaching out in an impressive variety of ways with learning and volunteering.

The bottom line is that in 2011/12 the arts and culture cluster generated £225m of Gross Value Added (GVA) for the City of London and supported more than 6,700 Full Time Equivalent jobs. 60% of this comes directly from the organisations involved (including ticket prices), 7% from spending by staff with 33% from spending by audience on items other than tickets. Of this audience spending, interestingly 48% is on accommodation showing the impact that staying visitors have on the local economy. And 17% is on-site, which just goes to show how well arts organisations have got things arranged to tempt visitors into spending on other things than tickets.

The reports conclusion in this area is pretty impressive:-
' The total GVA for the overall London economy generated by the City arts and culture cluster in 2011/12 is £291m, approximately £66m higher than for the City itself. This reflects the spending by both arts and culture organisations and their audiences in the rest of London, even though a lower proportion of this spending is counted as additional. This GVA supports 500 more jobs than when just looking at the City in isolation.;

But the reach is not only economic, with the arts and culture organisations providing learning and volunteering opportunities.City organisations provided 7000 learning and outreach sessions in 2011/12 for children and young people, 63% in schools and 27% outside schools. That is over 230,000 children and 80,000 adults in the 2011/12 participating in learning activities, which covered the spectrum - cross-curricula school learning, all kinds and levels of tuition, creative workshops and projects, and co-creation artistic and cultural activities.

In 2011/12, over 1,100 people volunteered with the City arts and culture organisations, contributing close to 38,000 volunteer hours.

The organisations covered by the report are a broad mix covering Cultural and Natural Heritage, Performance and Visual Arts and Crafts, all based in the City of London:-

The Monument, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London, the Clockmakers' Museum, London's Roman Amphitheatre, Museum of London, Dr Johnson's House, City of London Police Museum, the Bank of England's Museum, the Barbican’s Library, City Business Library, Guildhall Library, Shoe Lane Library, The Barbican, London Symphony Orchestra, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, City Music Society, City of London Festival, the Winter Concert Series, Spitalfields Music, the Bishopsgate Institute, Great St Helen’s Sculpture Space, Guildhall Art Gallery.

Most of the organisations are funded by the City of London Corporation, though the Tower of London, Bank of England Museum, Clockmakers’ Museum and Bishopsgate Institute do not receive funding. Three unnamed organisations declined to participate.

The report makes for fascinating reading and can be downloaded from the City of London's website. There is also an appendix with detailed case studies of individual organisations. It is surely essential reading for all those who make a case for cutting arts budgets or removing the arts entirely from local government.

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