Economic contribution of arts & culture

  • Cultural organisations and practitioners contributed £27bn to the UK economy in 2015, a 15 per cent increase on the previous year. This represents the fastest growth of any of the sectors covered by the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (cultural, digital, the wider creative industries, gambling, sport, telecoms and tourism.
  • Exports of services from UK-based cultural organisations grew by 13.6 per cent in 2014, in line with the general growth in exports from DCMS sectors during the same period.

Source: Economic Estimates of DCMS Sectors, August 2016.

employment in arts & culture

  • Total jobs in the UK cultural sector in 2015: 642,000, which has grown by 17.8 per cent since 2011.
  • Estimated number of UK jobs in museums, galleries and libraries in 2015: 97,000. This number rose by 14.6 per cent between 2014 and 2015, the highest change during this period acros the creative industries, and by 6.4 per cent between 2011 and 2015.
  • Estimated number of UK jobs in music, performing and the visual arts: 286,000. This number comprises 167,000 creative jobs within the creative industries, 57,000 creative jobs outside the creative industries and 76,000 "support" jobs in the creative industries.

Source: Economic estimates of DCMS Sectors, August 2016; Creative Industries Focus on Employment, June 2016, DCMS.



  • The Arts Council of England received total grant in aid of £440.1m in 2013/4, which was approximately unchanged from the previous year. Total Lottery funding was £172.1m in 2013/4, compared to £317.2m in 2012/3, the Olympic and Jubilee year.

  • From 2012 to 2015, the Arts Council of England funded 691 national portfolio organisations and 16 major museums. The Government has provided ACE with £200m between 2010 and 2015 to support regional museums. 
  • In addition to funding the ACE, the Government directly funded 16 national and non-national museums and galleries and English Heritage, which has a remit to advise on the built environment and also on historical buildings and sites. 
  • For every £1 invested in the Momentum scheme run by the Arts Council and PRS, which supports mid-career musicians, an estimated £7.46 is recouped by the music industry.

Sources: Culture and Creativity, DCMS report, March 2015; Arts Council data.


Cultural diplomacy and the great campaign

  • The GREAT campaign was launched in 2012 to harness British creativity, innovation and cultural assets to strengthen the UK's international competitive position. At the beginning of 2014, the campaign was estimated to have generated £500m in the markets where the campaign directly funds activities. In March 2015, the campaign was forecast to generate up to £800m from its 2013/4 funding.
  • The Government has created a £18m fund to promote the best of English arts and culture abroad and encourage collaboration and exchange. 

Source: Culture and Creativity, DCMS report, March 2015.


  • The aggregate turnover of business in the UK arts and culture industry was £12.4bn in 2011, according to the Centre for Economic and Business Research. (Source: Create, Arts Council of England).
  • The CEBR also estimates that the arts and culture sector contributes £7.7bn to the UK economy.
  • 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. (Source: The Value of Arts and Culture to the People and Society, Arts Council of England).
  • .In 2011, 10m inbound visits to the UK involved engagement with the arts and culture, representing 32 per cent of all visits to the UK and 42 per cent of all in-bound tourism-related expenditure. (Source: The Value of Arts and Culture to the People and Society, Arts Council of England).
  • In its first year, the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, south east England, made a £13.9m impact on Kent's economy. In Wakefield in Yorkshire, the Hepworth contributed £10m to the the local economy.
  • 57% of people surveyed by the Nation Brands Index in 2009 agreed that "history and culture" was a strong influence on their choice to visit Britain.
  • The Arts Council England invested £442,730,843 of Grant-in-Aid and £172,147,060 of Lottery money in arts and culture. (Source: Arts Council England annual report 2013/4).
  • Liverpool's Capital of Culture year generated £753.8m for the local economy in 2008. (Source: Arts Council England Evidence Review). 

London theatres do healthy business in 2014

London theatres enjoyed robust ticket attendances and revenues in 2014, generating £103.9m of VAT receipts for the UK Treasury.

Attendances totalled 14,744,887 in 2014 - up 1.1 per cent from the previous year, with gross sales rising by 6.5 per cent year on year to £623.6m, according to the figures from the Society of London Theatre.

The increase in revenue can be largely attributed to an improved seat capacity of 73.1%, compared to 69.2 per cent in 2012. Advanced sales were also strong, rising by an average of 21 per cent, and peaking at over £74m in December. 

The average ticket price was £42.29. The figures are based on data from 53 weeks, 

Source: 2014 Box Office Figures, the Society of London Theatre.



  • The arts and culture sector accounts for c.0.4 per cent of UK GDP.
  • Broadly, the UK arts and culture industry support c.260,300 full-time equivalent jobs, or 1.1 per cent of total UK employment. (Note, this number differs from official government data due to differences in categorisation and counting methods).
  • The arts and culture industry pays nearly five per cent more than UK median salary, thereby making a positive contribution to average household earnings.
  • The UK’s arts and culture are a very strong draw for international visitors, attracting at least £856m of tourist spending.
  • Arts and culture play an important role in supporting the UK’s wider commercial creative industries, such as film production, advertising, design and crafts, and showcasing the country’s creative talent overseas.
  • The arts and culture sector has an important benefit on health and well-being. Those who had attended a cultural place or event in the preceding 12 months were 60 per cent more likely to report good health, and theatre-goers were 25 per cent more likely to report being in health than the average.  People valued being in the audience for the arts at about £2,000 per year, which is higher than sport.

Sources: The Contribution of the Arts and Culture to the National Economy, Arts Council of England; The Value of Arts and Culture to the People and Society, Arts Council of England.