text
How the Arts Contribute to the Economy

"I still don’t think policymakers have genuinely woken up to the economic importance of the cultural industries." - George Osborne, 2009 http://bit.ly/9aOS87

“According to UNESCO the UK is the world’s largest exporter of cultural goods. Now there’s something. When have we been the world’s largest exporter of anything recently? And this is achieved with a tax payer investment which is 0.1 percent of the recent HBOS bailout. Not only that, with this tax payer investment we generate more economic activity than tourism, and we do this without a bonus culture, and without a ‘talent drain’ – Talking Birds in 2008

The creative industries are straight forwardly, unequivocally, vital to our economy. 6.2% of the UK’s local income (GVA) comes from the creative industries, the arts provide over 2m jobs (source) and are mentioned by 8 out of 10 tourists as a reason for their visit. (source)

Not only do the arts contribute massively to the UK economy, funding the arts only costs everyone in Britain 17p per week.  (source)

George Osborne himself said that  “over the past decade, the creative industries have grown twice as fast as the rest of the economy […] if we’re to see sustainable economic growth in the years ahead, the creative industries will have to play a leading role.”  http://bit.ly/9aOS87

Continued investment in the arts (including the management and admin staff that allow artists to concentrate on making art) is vital to our economic recovery, to cut it is to cut income from the government.

On a total UK public sector investment of only £1.6bn, the creative industries garner a return (measured as GVA) of £7.7bn:

graph of GVA vs. investment in the creative industries

(based on figures from 06/07 in this document )

Although it’s worth noting RE the above graph that the creative industries include more than just the subsidised sector, the arts are part of a complex ecology, Charlotte Higgins puts it brilliantly in this article where she explains how the subsidised arts sector feeds the flagship successes like the National Theatre and Royal Opera House, and Nicholas Hytner (artistic director of the former) suggests that where the UK otherwise falls down, “It is our creative economy that is genuinely still a world-beater, and at its centre is the network of publicly subsidised institutions that are its engine room”

The subsidised art sector also spills heavily over into the mainstream creative industries. Hide and Seek, a company whose work explores new ground between theatre and play epitomise that connection:

"When I started Hide&Seek in 2007, we were fortunate to receive support from the Arts Council to develop our projects. Our first grant was for less than £20,000. That public investment was matched by private charity donations and commercial support from Hewlett Packard. We had precious time to experiment and develop our ideas, and were able to make Last Will, which directly led to a set of commercial commissions from the likes of PlayStation and Warner Bros. Hide&Seek now employs five full-time staff and we’re growing all the time. We’ll pay back a lot more in tax than we’ll have received in public funds." – Alex Fleetwood

We understand that deficit reduction must occur, and that economies must be made. But along with reasonable savings, investment must be part of any sustainable solution.

Swingeing cuts in arts, science, green tech, health and education investment will make a small impact in exchange for damage to our international-standing and economic and inventive potential that will cost us - in the long run - much more than we can afford.

Click here to read how the arts contribute equally vitally to society.