Visitors at the National Gallery in London

Arts and culture make up 0.4% GDP

Rebecca Atkinson, 07.05.2013
ACE report shows economic value of arts and culture
Arts and culture is punching above its weight in economic terms, according to a new report published by Arts Council England (ACE).

The publication comes a few weeks after culture secretary Maria Miller called on the sector to help her make the economic case for investing in the arts.

ACE’s report, which was produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), shows that arts and culture make up 0.4% of the gross domestic product – a return on the less than 0.1% of government spending invested in the sector.

This means that arts and culture generate more per pound invested than the health, wholesale and retail, and professional and business services sectors. The economic contribution of the sector has grown since 2008 despite the UK economy as a whole remaining below its output level before the global financial crisis.

The report also shows that the sector is of significant scale with a turnover of £12.8bn in 2011. Its gross value added, a measure of the economic value of goods and services produced, was £5.9m in the same year. At least £856m of spending by tourists visiting the UK each year can be attributed directly to arts and culture.

And the sector is also making a contribution to employment, providing 0.45% of total UK employment and 0.48% in England.

ACE said it will now consider with its partners and the arts and cultural organisations it funds how best to capitalise on the strengths the report underlines – particularly in the areas of cultural education, in driving tourism, cultural exports and the sector’s contribution to growth in the creative industries.

Alan Davey, chief executive of ACE, said: “We fund arts and culture because they have a unique ability to fire our imaginations, to inspire and entertain us. The contribution culture makes to our quality of life, as a society and as individuals, will always be our primary concern.

“But at a time when public finances are under such pressure, it is also right to examine all the benefits that investment in arts and culture can bring – and to consider how we can make the most effective use of that contribution.”

He called on the government to consider the role of arts and culture in its forthcoming industrial strategy: “Not to do so is to ignore a key part of our economy and future prosperity.”

The CEBR analysis used a methodology applied regularly by the Office for National Statistics and recognised by leading economists. The report is the first comprehensive analysis to determine this value to the modern economy on a national scale.

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