Report tracking health of arts and culture in England ‘makes for shocking reading’

The National Campaign for the Arts (NCA) has launched its new Arts Index, a snapshot report of the health of England’s arts and culture. The latest edition covers ten years of austerity and reveals how the arts sector’s entrepreneurial response to a decade of decline in public funding, philanthropy and business support is now the very thing that threatens its future.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Investment for the arts via public funding – through the Lottery, local and national government – has been cut by 35% since 2008, with local government funding for the arts down 43%.
  • Business sponsorship of the arts has fallen 39% since 2013, meaning tens of millions of pounds have disappeared from the arts economy.
  • Earned income of arts organisations (box office sales, venue hires, catering etc) is up 47% since 2008.
  • Although philanthropy grew substantially in 2014/15, the increase was not sustained in the 2017/18 survey, suggesting that it will take many more years to match levels of giving generated in the USA.
  • The proportion of all GCSEs being taken in creative subjects has fallen 20% since 2010.

The Index is launched in partnership with the Creative Industries Federation and King's College London. Caroline Norbury MBE, CEO, Creative Industries Federation, said:

‘The Arts Index makes for shocking reading - a steep decline in public and private investment in the arts, with the sector now more reliant than ever on earned income from box offices, cafes, bars and gift shops - all of which are now closed. Worryingly, there has also been a 20% decline in arts subjects studied at GCSE – at a time when the World Economic Forum has repeatedly said that “creativity” will be one of the most needed skills this decade.’

NCA Chair, Samuel West says:

‘It’s bitterly ironic that the arts sector’s resourceful response to the 2008 financial crash is the very thing that has brought it to its knees in the current Covid-19 crisis.’

Baroness Deborah Bull, Vice President & Vice-Principal (London) & Senior Advisory Fellow for Culture, King’s College London, said:

‘The challenge that the Covid-19 pandemic presents to organisations across the arts and cultural sector is brought into even sharper relief by the data within the National Campaign for the Arts’ latest Arts Index... it reveals the depth of the crisis the sector now faces. But it also shows the extraordinary resilience, innovative thinking and bold approaches that sustained the sector through and beyond the 2008 financial crisis - qualities and skills that will be of crucial importance in the sector’s recovery over the coming years. The data within the Arts Index will provide invaluable learning from the past to help inform and support the sector’s future.’

Read the report in full here

In response to the Arts Index, the NCA are hosting an space event for arts leaders and activists on 26 June 1-4.30pm. Find out further information and how you can attend here