Culture is worth £5.5bn to London economy, says Arts Council

The Fairfield Halls: closed again, but no one knows for how long

The impact on the local economy of the continuing closure of the Fairfield Halls is hinted at in a report published today by Arts Council England which reckons that arts and culture contributed £5.5billion to London in 2018, supporting 67,075 jobs in the capital.

The report suggests that the arts and culture sector has lost nearly one-quarter of its value and economic impact in 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The council-owned Fairfield Halls has been open only fitfully for almost five years, since June 2016 when it was closed for a major refurbishment project. Reopened at a cost of at least £42million in September last year, it was forced to close again seven months ago due to coronavirus. While other theatres and concert venues around London have done their utmost to start to stage performances with audiences again – even by offering paid-for “remote” performances – the Fairfield Halls operators BHLive have given no updates on when it might be “curtain up” again at the borough’s prestigious arts venue.

The Arts Council England report shows that performing arts (13,700) and book-publishing (11,900) supported the highest number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in London, where Arts and Culture contributed more in Gross Value Added – GVA – to the capital’s economy than Accommodation (£3.6billion).

According to the report, Contribution of the arts and culture industry to the UK economy, “Including supply chain impacts and employee expenditure, arts and culture supported £10.2billion of GVA and 136,000 FTE jobs in London in 2018. And for every FTE job in arts and culture supports 0.86 additional FTE jobs elsewhere in London.

“For every £1 of GVA the sector produces, this stimulates a further £1.03 of GVA in the region.”

The data, of course, is all pre-pandemic. Among the findings were:

  • Added £13.5billion to the UK economy, up from £12.8billion the previous year, and contributed £3.4billion in tax.
  • Creates good jobs, employing 233,000 people, a larger workforce than Sainsbury’s.
  • These roles were on average more productive than those in sectors such as manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical activities, with an average of £72,000 Gross Value Added per full time equivalent worker, compared to the UK average of £56,700.
  • The sector also supported £28.9billion of Gross Value Added and 454,000 full time equivalent jobs through its supply chains.
  • Supports the wider creative industries, one of the fastest growing areas of the economy, and brings visitors to high streets near cultural attractions.

Further research from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) predicts that the Culture Recovery Fund will boost sector’s Gross Value Added (GVA) by £1.4billion and will help return to its pre-lockdown level by 2022, a full year earlier than was anticipated without government intervention.

The research predicts the sector is set to be worth £15.2billion to the economy by 2025.

Sir Nicholas Serota: arts has a ‘vital role’

Arts Council England is working with the government on the distribution of a £1.57billion recovery fund, the Culture Recovery Fund.

BHLive has not made any announcement about whether it, or Croydon Council, will be bidding for a share of that funding towards the Fairfield Halls and the borough’s other cultural activities.

Sir Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England said: “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.

“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 Arts Council said today that it is “now working to distribute the Culture Recovery Fund as quickly as possible. £3.36million has already been invested in 136 live music venues across England, with more announcements soon to follow”.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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