Key Themes (Culture, State of the South West 2011)
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11.1.1 Of the UK’s culture and sport economy, activity in South West England makes a strong contribution, and particularly that of the digital and creative industries, and cultural heritage. According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Culture and Sport Evidence (CASE) research, the creative sector in South West England continues to generate the highest economic values of the four industrial categories (creative, heritage, museums libraries and archives, and sport). There are significant concentrations of creative activity in the Growth Hubs of Bristol and Bath, that are associated with high-growth business clusters, innovation and creativity.
11.1.2 Tourism is inter-connected to the region’s diverse cultural and creative life, attracting significant numbers of domestic and overseas visitors. The most popular tourist destination in the UK, the South West specialises in the domestic holiday market. In spite of global recession and wet weather, all visitor numbers and spend have increased, with tourist businesses generating an estimated 9% to the region’s economic outputs
11.1.3 Public engagement in culture and sport, including volunteering, is a strategic objective of Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and its sponsored cultural agencies, as well as that of many local authorities across the South West. Of progress towards higher levels of participation and attendance, evidence shows little or no change, but modest success when compared to other regions. Results from Sport England’s Active People Survey 4 (2009/10) reveal higher than average rates of participation by adults in moderate intensity sport and active recreation, volunteering and satisfaction with sports facilities. While visits to libraries, museums and galleries have decreased, participation rates in the arts have remained unchanged. Most encouraging is the steady increase of admissions to cinemas in the South West.
11.1.4 Household spend on ‘recreation and culture’ is the second highest in South West England of all nine English regions, with an average weekly spend of £63.60 and compared to the UK average of £58.30 (ONS, November
2010). ‘Nationally, ‘prosperous young families’ and a ‘village life’ group within the ‘countryside supergroup are the highest spenders on ‘recreation and culture’. Of this expenditure, approximately a third was spent on recreational
and cultural services (sports admissions, leisure class fees and equipment hire; cinema, theatre and museums; TV, video, satellite rental, cable subscriptions, TV licenses and internet; and gambling payments).
11.1.5 According to English Heritage’s annual survey, Heritage Counts 2010, 69.8% of adults participated in the historic environment (of two or more visits in the past 12 months). This is lower than in 2008/09 (72.7%) and below the
2009/10 England average rate of 70.4%. Although English Heritage and National Trust experienced 3% and 2% declines (respectively) in visitor numbers between 2007/08 and 2008/09, figures for 2009/10 show signs of recovery – and visitor numbers at many historic sites are the highest since 2001/02. National Trust Visitor numbers in the South West increased by 15% between 2008/09 and 2009/10; English Heritage Visitor numbers increased by 5.6% over the same time period.
11.1.6 Cultural infrastructure development was the subject of a ground-breaking spatial planning strategy, People, Places and Spaces (Culture South West, September 2008a). The document supports the region’s wealth of existing culture and sport assets, while looking ahead to future needs. With ancient and modern icons located in the region and an estimated 26,600 physical assets, including four World Heritage Sites, and the national parks of Dartmoor and Exmoor, the South West has much to offer residents and visitors. Population and housing growth are, nonetheless, driving demand for more local culture and sport facilities, and particularly in growth points including Swindon, Bournemouth, Poole, Exeter and Plymouth. Strategic local cultural partnerships, of public and private organisations, are working with urban regeneration companies and developers to ensure cultural and sporting provision is an integral part of new construction projects.
11.1.7 Governance of public cultural policy development and delivery, and corresponding decision-making structures and processes, are important components of a region’s cultural profile. Following the General Election of May 2010 and Comprehensive Spending Review announcements, structural arrangements at national, regional and local scales, are under-going radical change – including the abolition of Centre for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and UK Film Council, and reviews by local authorities of cultural services. Nationally, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) continues to lead on cultural and sporting policy, sharing responsibilities with other governmental departments on areas such as economic development, local government reform and Big Society agenda. Two significant regional cultural partnerships were set up in 2009: the South West Culture Board of representatives from four DCMS sponsored cultural agencies (Arts Council England, English Heritage, Museums Libraries and Archives Council and Sport England); and South West Local Authority Cultural Partnership. At a local level, strategic and innovative delivery mechanisms, for the delivery of cultural and business support services, are emerging. Bearing in mind the challenges and opportunities posed by recent political change, fiscal constraint and global economic recovery, the state of culture in South West England is relatively