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Audiences for Arts Council England’s NPOs fall 16% year on year

An audience giving a standing ovation – could they be the future of criticism? Photo: Christian Bertrand/Shutterstock While attendance at NPOs has fallen in the past year, most of the drop can be attributed to decreasing audiences for exhibitions. Photo: Christian Bertrand/Shutterstock
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Audience attendance at Arts Council England’s national portfolio organisations has fallen by 16% in 2016-17 compared with the previous year, according to the its annual report.

However for theatre NPOs, audience attendance has risen by 3% in 2016/17 compared to 2015/16, with 91% of the decrease attributed to a fall in audiences for exhibitions, according to the report.

Overall audiences for NPOs decreased from 104 million to 88 million, with audiences falling most sharply in London – by 28%.

NPO organisations in the South West reported an audience drop of 28% and audiences for NPOs in the Midlands fell by 15%.

However, audiences for NPOs in the South East rose by 51%, and those in the North also rose by 6%.

The report also looked at diversity within the leadership of its 652 national portfolio organisations.

Women accounted for 46.2% of leadership roles, while 12.5% were from a black, Asian or minority ethic background, 5% were LGBT and 7% were disabled. The Arts Council report from the previous year does not include the comparative data.

This year’s report states that, in comparison with the wider working age population, people from a black and minority ethnic background and disabled people were under-represented across the arts and culture workforce and leadership, and women were also found to be under-represented in certain leadership roles.

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