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Arts growing five times as fast as UK economy – report

Nicholas Serota. Photo: Hugh Glendinning

Arts and culture in the UK grew by 10% in 2015, five times that of the UK economy as a whole, a new report has claimed.

Based on new figures from the Centre for Economic and Business Research, the GDP of the arts and culture industry in the UK grew by 10.4% to £11.8 billion, in 2015, compared with the 2.2% recorded by the entire UK economy over the same period.

When looking at gross value added – financial output minus the cost of producing it – the sector contributed £8.5 billion, up from £7.6 billion in 2014.

The report, which has been prepared for Arts Council England, is the third report of its kind, intended to provide an “up-to-date picture” of the contributions that arts and culture activities contribute to economic indicators such as GDP and jobs.

It is based on data from 2014 and 2015, the most recent years available.

The report claims the Treasury is now making back £5 in taxes for every £1 invested by the government into the arts, while in 2015, 131,200 people were employed in the arts and culture industry, the highest proportion of which – 35% – worked in the performing arts.

Meanwhile, the report also details the amount of arts and culture-based goods and services exported from the UK. In 2013, this was £5.2 billion, 84% of which went outside the EU.

Arts Council chair Nicholas Serota said the figures demonstrated that arts and culture continue “to play a vital and increasing role in the UK economy”.

He also highlighted the importance of arts and culture within the wider creative industries, which is detailed in another newly published report.

The study, by SDG Economic Development, found that industries such as video games, film and TV and architecture are underpinned by arts and culture.

Examples include musicians and composers that work on Hollywood films and the contribution of visual artists to architecture.

Arts minister John Glen said the two new reports demonstrated the importance of the UK’s cultural sector to the prosperity of the economy.

“Not only does arts and culture have a positive impact on the lives of individuals who participate, but it demonstrates how far public investment in the arts goes to stimulate growth in the creative industries,” he added.