Yorkshire’s art leaders hail sector as report says it adds £10bn to the economy

YORKSHIRE’s arts leaders have hailed the social and economic benefits of cultural attractions in the region after a new report found the sector is worth £10.8bn to the UK’s economy - more than agriculture.

But Arts Council England, who produced the report, has warned despite supporting 360,000 jobs and contributing £2.8bn in tax to the Government, the sector is being battered by public funding cuts. In total, 75 per cent of arts organisations surveyed have suffered funding cuts, with more than half of these saying they could not compensate for the loss, adding pressure to staff, with frozen wages and payroll reductions. The arts and culture industry is “increasingly becoming reliant” on volunteers as a result.

Book publishing is the largest contributor, accounting for around a third of turnover. Performing arts accounts for a third of employment in the sector.

Last month Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) saw the opening of its new £3.6m Weston visitor centre, of which, £1.7m came from Arts Council England.

YSP’s director of programme, Clare Lilley, said each year the West Bretton park contributed more than £10m to the regional economy, representing “fantastic value for money”.

She said: “The cultural sector hugely supports quality of life, wellbeing, family and community cohesion and, as we see in this report, the economy. Cultural destinations are successful contributors to regeneration, driving wider infrastructure investment with significant impact on tourism, local employment, education and aspiration.”

Arts Council England has contributed £750,000 to this summer’s Yorkshire Sculpture International festival, which begins in Leeds and Wakefield in June. Producer Jane Bhoyroo said the value of arts and culture to the economy of Yorkshire “cannot be understated nor can the social impact it has”.

“Investment from Arts Council England is allowing us to create something amazing and memorable this summer which will have an impact across two cities, the Yorkshire economy and touch the lives of more than a million people,” she said.

“From a tourism point of view we are confident it will generate visits and from a social point of view it will open sculpture up to a wide audience to the possibilities art brings. The impact will be felt beyond YSI for years to come.”

Welcome to Yorkshire’s commercial director Peter Dodd said: “The arts and culture scene here in Yorkshire is thriving right now so it’s really no surprise the economic boost this sector brings is so huge.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, chairman of Arts Council England, said: “Latest figures show arts and culture is a thriving industry delivering huge benefits for our economy.

“Public investment in the arts is fuelling local regeneration across the country, pushing skills and talent to the commercial sector, and driving the world-class reputation of our creative industries.”

Despite pressures, the productivity of arts and culture workers is higher than the national average, according to the report.

Turnover from the arts and culture sector has risen every year from 2009 to 2016, from £11bn to almost £17bn.