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Vital Signs North East: Culture

Our ground-breaking study of the scale, dynamics and needs of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in North East England.

Culture challenges

Culture means everything that brings people together – as audiences or participants – via arts, heritage and non-elite sport. Despite the challenges of Covid and cost of living, the cultural sector retains the potential to make a positive contribution to the lives of everyone who lives or works in the region. Philanthropy has a major part to play. There are many more people that would benefit from engaging in cultural activities, but less money from the state or people’s disposable incomes, and civil society organisations need extra funding to close the gap. It should be a basic right to have access to a range of different activities that nourish, fulfil and inspire. The benefits are personal and societal.

  • National challenges: reduced or stand-still budgets for funders of arts, heritage and sports; reduced extra-curricular school provision; local authority budgets squeezed; reduced disposable incomes for leisure activities; impacts of pandemic on tourism.
  • North East England challenges: London disproportionately favoured for investments; regional household incomes under particular pressure; access in rural areas.

Culture indicator North East England South East
% of people who took part in the arts e.g. reading, going to the theatre, playing games 2022-23 89 89 91
% of people who visited historic buildings or places 2022-23 66 67 71
% of people who visited a museum or gallery 2022-23 30 33 34
Investment per person by Arts Council England 2022-23 £13.43 £14 £11.24 (London = £32.52)
Investment per person by Sport England 2022-23 £8.44 £15.07 £9.05 (London = £34.72)
Investment per person by National Lottery Heritage Fund 2022-23 £2.73 £3.95 £1.49 (London = £4.02)

Culture opportunities

Despite the challenges there are a number of opportunities in North East England via:

  • Active organisations offering many routes to participation and enjoyment
  • Growth in number of Arts Council national portfolio organisations
  • Strong support for culture and tourism among regional and sub-regional bodies
  • Burgeoning creative industries including TV and film production

The Community Foundation believes philanthropic support is essential in three areas.

Ensuring everyone has opportunities to engage in culture – for fun and fulfilment and to develop skills, so benefitting individuals and society:

  • support for grassroots activity with a range of lifelong entry points and progression routes
  • nurture talent and invest in opportunities that allow exceptional people to flourish in the North East and stay here in creative jobs
  • prioritise places where there are fewer opportunities, and communities facing additional barriers, including girls and women, disabled people and people from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic backgrounds

Read the full report here

Funding arts, heritage and sport activities which act as an effective way to address the region’s social and economic challenges and opportunities:

  • activity to reduce health inequalities
  • support for participation and attainment in education
  • creation of routes into employment
  • enhance prosperity through tourism and inward investment

Read the full report here

Increasing the capacity of civil society organisations in this area:

  • more core funding, and whenever possible, multi-year awards
  • support for volunteering
  • enable them to engage effectively with local and regional partners

Read the full report here

Vital Signs Reports

The most recent reports from Vital Signs are here