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Publicly funded arts bolster the UK economy, study finds

By Mark Brown/The Guardian/13th July 2015

Public spending on the arts brings significant growth to the commercial creative industries, which in turn boosts the wider UK economy, a report backed by business leaders argues.

The Creative Industries Federation published a report on Monday setting out in detail the importance of public investment in the arts, whether that is by national government or local authorities.

John Kampfner, the chief executive of the federation, said spending public money on the arts was crucial, “not just for the good of society, but to nurture some of the best talent for our creative industries”.

He added: “There is nothing ‘nice to have’ about the arts and the creative industries, there is nothing tangential, nothing ‘soft’. They are central to our economy, our public life and our nation’s health.”

The report was published alongside one commissioned by Arts Council England analysing in fine detail the macroeconomic contribution arts and culture make to the national economy.

The reports include some striking statistics. For example:

Arts and culture is worth £7.7bn in gross value added to the British economy – an increase of 35.8% between 2010 and 2013.

For every pound invested in arts and culture, an additional £1.06 is generated in the economy.

More than one in 12 UK jobs are in the creative economy, with employment increasing 5% between 2013 and 2014, compared with a 2.1% jobs increase in the wider economy.

Britain invests a smaller percentage, 0.3%, of its total GDP on arts and culture than other countries. Germany invests 0.4%, the EU as a whole 0.5%, Denmark 0.7% and France 0.8%.

More than 20 figures from the creative commercial sector are backing the report and have contributed their own observations.

Ian Livingstone, the games industry entrepreneur, said arts and culture are just as important as well maintained roads and bridges.

“By giving us the chance to stimulate our minds with new ideas and experiences, they give us the opportunity to become more creative. Arts and culture are infrastructure for the mind,” he said.

Melanie Clore, the chairman of auction house Sotheby’s Europe, said the success of the UK’s commercial art scene was intrinsically linked to the strength of public institutions.

“Investment in world-class public programmes is a vital component in helping the UK to punch well above its weight as leaders in a highly competitive global art market.”

Kampfner said it was important to get these voices heard as they were not the usual suspects and they provide an even more compelling argument.

Grant in aid to England’s Arts Council has fallen nearly 30% in the last five years and few expect the situation to get any better. All eyes are on George Osborne’s spending review expected in November or December.

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