Report on the value of arts and culture in building communities

Arts organisations report
Image Credit: 
Anderson Guerra
23 August, 2019


Arts Council England has released a report on the value of arts and culture in place-shaping, which has demonstrated that arts and culture can help build communities and increase wellbeing.

The report studied six cities and towns in England: Birmingham, Halifax, Hastings, Redruth, Southampton and Stoke-on-Trent. Arts Council England commissioned the research to determine if an area’s art and culture activities and services had an impact on people living there, and if they helped shape a place’s identity.

Examples of arts and culture offerings included exhibitions in museums and galleries, street art, theatres, libraries, cinemas, music venues and cultural festivals.

As well as the six focus areas, a nationwide survey of over 1,750 people added to the research.

Overall, it emerged that arts and culture had the following positive impacts:

  • 65% of people said arts and culture are good for wellbeing.
  • 49% said attending an arts and culture event helped them feel part of a community; 68% said these events help foster community feeling. There is a growing interest in arts-based programmes for community integration.
  • 55% said they would like to see more arts and culture where they live. Many people said arts and culture was too centralised, and there needed to be something outside the towns and cities.
  • Arts and culture organisations can help fill empty spaces in high streets and drive more visitors.
  • 44% of those who remained in an area, and 43% of those who moved to an area, said local arts and culture was a factor in their decision.
  • The majority of businesses did not invest in local arts and culture; the report suggests ‘there is a need to create space for dialogue between local businesses and arts and cultural organisations to discuss partnership opportunities, collaboration and sponsorship’.
  • People from all parts of the UK and with all kinds of jobs (low-skilled to high-skilled) value arts and culture, but those from a town or city with a strong arts and culture offering were more likely to cite this as a factor in their decision to live there.

Though Bristol wasn’t profiled in the report, the city is known for its strong arts and culture scene, and many local VCSE organisations use culture to engage with the community, whether aimed at a specific group (such as children or refugees) or a specific neighbourhood.

If you’re looking for a paid or voluntary role with a local arts and culture organisation, check the Voscur jobs board for the latest listings.

If you need arts and culture funding, Bristol City Council will hold information sessions on its Originators Fund in September 2019.

If you need advice on marketing your arts or culture event, including how to create a marketing plan, Voscur’s half-day Marketing and Campaigns course can help; for advice on setting up as a Community Interest Company, try Voscur’s free lunchtime course.