Why our arts centres are important to everyone

Community arts centres make a real difference to everyone - not just those who use them.

The 2016-17 annual report produced by the organisation Future Arts Centres looked at the impact these venues have on their neighbourhoods and the economy more generally.

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And it shows what a key part of the arts scene such places have become.

Thee Telepaths performing at Kettering Arts Centre in 2016Thee Telepaths performing at Kettering Arts Centre in 2016
Thee Telepaths performing at Kettering Arts Centre in 2016

Its findings include:

* Arts centres are thriving businesses within their communities, with an estimated combined economic activity valued at £73 million.

* With average Arts Council investment of £457,000 per venue, and local authority investment of £140,000 per venue, arts centres are generating an average of 63 per cent of turnover from earned income and fundraising activity.

* Employing an average of 38 full-time equivalent staff, the report’s sample of 17 arts centres provided employment for nearly 12,000 artists and 19 apprentices and were supported by more than 900 volunteers.

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* An average of 29 businesses per arts centre were supported in 2016/17. The report also found that arts centres attract parts of the population other venues often fail to.

It also found:

* Arts centres engaged an average of 20 per cent of their audiences from the four least engaged categories of the population, compared to the average of 14 per cent across the English regions, demonstrating how successful arts centres can be at attracting non-traditional arts attenders.

* The average ticket price across the venues studied was just £9, compared to the national average of £23.53 for the full spectrum of arts events.

* The 17 arts centres which took part in the survey hosted a combined total of more than 29,000 events, including 4,740 live events and 14,500 film screenings, reaching audiences in excess of 1.6 million. Participation exceeded 376,000.

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The previous year’s report also carried some striking facts and figures. These included:

* Some 57 per cent of customers travel up to five miles to visit arts centres, with another 19 per cent travelling between 5 and 15 miles, confirming they are serving local audiences.

* The average donatio from ticket bookers was £2.11, with those living closest to venues giving the most - £2.28 for those within one mile dropping to £1.83 for those travelling more than 15 miles.

Visit futureartscentres.org.uk for more about the importance of arts centres.

* This article is part of The Show Must Go On, JPIMedia's campaign to support live arts venues

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