The Value Of Arts & Culture To People & Society
The latest Arts Council England report, The Value Of Arts And Culture To People And Society, is an evidence review aimed squarely at the specifics of the value of arts and culture to society – mostly a philosophical assertion at the moment – and highlighting the gaps in the facts and figures.
Why ? The Chair, Sir Peter Bazalgette, argues ” Quantifying the benefits and expressing them in terms of facts and figures that can evidence the contribution made to our collective and individual lives has always presented a problem, but it is something that arts and culture organisations will always have to do in order to secure funding from both public and private sources. But while we do not cherish arts and culture because of the impact on our social wellbeing and cohesion, our physical and mental health, our education system, our national status and our economy, they do confer these benefits and we need to show how important this is.”
He continues, “there is a lack of data, for example, about the importance of the arts to the creative industries, particularly in regard to innovation. We lack longitudinal studies of the health benefits of participation in arts and culture, and comparative studies of the effects of participation in the arts as opposed to, say, participation in sport. We cannot demonstrate why the arts are so unique in what they do. For the first time, the Arts Council will be committing substantial research grants to plug some of these gaps.”
Here’s what we do know (based on 2011) :
- Businesses in the UK arts and culture industry generated an aggregate turnover of £12.4 billion
- For every £1 of salary paid by the arts and culture industry, an additional £2.01 is generated in the wider economy through indirect and induced multiplier impacts
- 10 billion inbound visits to the UK involved engagement with the arts and culture, representing 32% of all visits to the UK and 42% of all inbound tourism-related expenditure
- Attending a cultural event or place were almost 60% more likely to report good health compared to those who had not
- People value being in the audience to the arts at about £2000 per person per year and participating at £1500 per person. The value of participating in sports is about £1500 per person per year
- Engagement in structured arts and culture improves the cognitive abilities of children and young people
- Studies from low income families who take part in arts activities at school are 3 times more likely to get a degree than children from low income families who do not engage in arts activities at school
A career in the arts
With regard to individual artists, the evidence suggests that they can face precarious economic security, despite strong evidence of the contribution of arts and culture to national and local economies. One of the research papers (creative Graduates Futures Higher Education Partnership and the Institute for Employment Studies, 2010) found that low pay is a key feature of early careers in the creative sector, and unpaid work is becoming a pre-requisite for career entry in a more competitive market. Graduates often take on a number of short-term, unpaid, speculative, low-paid or freelance opportunities. The report claims that graduates have little opportunity to develop leadership and managerial skills, and imply that this could have a long-term impact on the health of the creative sector, on business growth, on promotion prospects and career progression.