New evidence links heritage venues to local economic success

Strong correlation found between heritage asset density and number of businesses per capita
Jonathan Knott
New evidence for the positive impact of museums, heritage sites and other cultural assets on local economies has been found by a government-commissioned study across England.

A report published by the department for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) earlier this month said that the number of businesses per capita was “strongly and positively” associated with the density of heritage assets, as well as other cultural assets.

The net migration of businesses into an area was also strongly and positively associated with the density of cultural assets.

These results held true across local authorities whether they were in major urban areas or not, suggesting that this finding was not simply down to a tendency for both businesses and cultural venues to aggregate in cities.

The turnover of all businesses in an area per capita was also positively associated with the density of heritage assets, and more weakly with population size.

The report said: “Where there are high densities of theatres, museums, monuments and so on, we tend to find concentrations of economic activity. Further, the density of cultural assets is found to be positively and strongly related to the net in-migration of businesses, which suggests that such assets are important ‘pull’ factors which influence location decisions.

“These findings hold regardless of the urban scale at which they are examined: cultural assets are equally important as attractors in non-major urban areas as in major urban areas and this suggests that the observed results are not simply a reflection of general urban agglomeration effects.”

The study was carried out by Trends Business Research, NEF Consulting and Middlesex University. The researchers, who gathered local authority-level data from 2003-2013 and analysed it using econometric models, stressed that the approach used was “highly exploratory”.

The research was commissioned by the Culture and Sport Evidence programme, which is led by DCMS in collaboration with Arts Council England, Historic England and Sport England.

Links and downloads

Report: the role of culture, sport and heritage in place shaping

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