Research commissioned by Arts Council boldly predicts culture sector rebound sooner than expected

Image: © John Cairns

New research from the Centre for Economic and Business Research, commissioned by Arts Council England, suggests the culture sector could bounce back to a pre-Covid level of growth by 2022.

Highlighting the government’s Culture Recovery Fund as a main contributor to this predicted outcome, the findings forecast an annual contribution of £15.2 billion to the UK economy by 2025.

The research estimates the sector has lost an estimated 23% of its GVA in 2020 – due exclusively to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pre-pandemic prominence

Prior to the unparalleled disruption brought on by the pandemic, the culture sector was:

  • worth £13.5 billion to the UK economy in 2018 – up from £12.8 billion the previous year – and contributed £3.4billion in tax
  • employing 233,000 people (a larger workforce than Sainsbury’s), with an average of £72,000 GVA per full time equivalent worker, compared to the UK average of £56,700
  • larger than the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries combined

“I know that recent months have been challenging and uncertain times for the arts, culture and heritage sectors but the findings in this report are welcome news,” says culture secretary Oliver Dowden.

“Thanks to our £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund these hugely valuable sectors will be able to build back from this crisis sooner, boosting the country’s economic recovery and more importantly, enriching people’s lives.”

The Centre for Economic and Business Research’s study coincides with research by Metro Dynamics which casts the culture sector as an “R&D lab” for the wider creative industries, driving experimentation, innovation and commercial activity.

“These figures demonstrate that, beyond the value of the arts to the lives of people across the country, the cultural sector is an economic force in its own right, as well as an essential pipeline for talent and ideas into the wider creative industries – one of our fastest growing sectors before the pandemic,” notes Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England.

“By investing through the Culture Recovery Fund, the Government is helping to protect the sector, ensuring that it can bounce back more quickly and play a vital role in the national recovery as we emerge from the pandemic.”

The full research findings are available here.