Jim Beirne
Sarah Waddington

Member Article

£4.06 generated for every £1 of subsidy received

An Independent Economic Assessment of ‘Culture Matters’ - ten of the North East’s leading cultural organisations representing 22 venues – has shown that £4.06 of GVA is generated within the region for every pound of subsidy received.

On a very basic level, GVA measures the amount put back into an economy after the funding has been used – it is the return on investment.

The finding is critical in light of earmarked budget cuts that could see the venues lose 100% of funding from Newcastle City Council by 2015, potentially forcing many of Newcastle’s biggest cultural names to slash services and increase prices.

The survey, which was carried out by ERS Ltd and is the fourth of its kind, also highlights that throughout 2011-12, Culture Matters’ members collectively:

- contributed £77.6m of GVA

- supported up to 2003 full time jobs

- procured 60% of goods and services worth £19.8m from North East suppliers

- generated around £8.6m in additional visitor spend.

The news comes in the wake of the announcement by Newcastle City Council that due to a reduction in funding, it plans to deliver a 100% (£1.6m) cut in its arts subsidy, implementing this gradually over the next three years.

Jim Beirne, chief executive of Live Theatre, a member of Culture Matters, said: “This annual report is extremely valuable in underlining the economic contribution made by ten of the region’s leading cultural venues and shows we play a significant role in terms of income generation and employment creation.

“What’s more, if we were not here as a collective creating reasons for people to visit, the North East would lose around £8.6m in additional visitor spend, creating an immediate void for the hospitality and retail trades to fill, a serious issue in itself.

“We recognise that Newcastle City Council is facing some incredibly difficult decisions and that there can be no winners, but the arts subsidy received by us all delivers a huge return for a relatively small investment. As such, we would strongly urge cabinet members to think again.”

Outside of the hard-hitting GVA and employment figures, the economic impact assessment also looks at health and well-being impacts of arts and culture stemming from recreation activities. Although it states they cannot be easily measured or quantified, it recognises they do have a value and that 3.6 million visitors attending Culture Matters venues during 2011-12 reported positive and life-enhancing experiences.

Jim added: “This report is in the main about the financial impact of our efforts but it is important we do not forget the personal element of what we do in terms of making people’s lives better through our shows and social programmes. Health and well-being directly impact productivity in the workplace so the benefits are widespread if not always as tangible as hard figures can be.

“The situation is this - we have spent almost two decades developing NewcastleGateshead into a city known, loved and celebrated by residents and visitors alike. It would be a tragedy to lose this momentum now and with it everything this success has brought.

“There are members of Culture Matters which receive no other public funding than that received from Newcastle City Council. If the proposed 100% funding cut goes ahead, this would leave them in a very precarious position. It is in all our interests to ensure this doesn’t happen and to protect the social fabric of the North.”

The ten members of Culture Matters have been working together since early 2009 under the name NewcastleGateshead Cultural Venues and include BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Centre for Life, Dance City, Live Theatre, Northern Stage, Seven Stories, The Sage Gateshead, Theatre Royal, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Tyneside Cinema.

For more information, please visit http://ngcv.tv.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sarah Waddington .

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