The Arts Index – from an East perspective!

Much was made at the launch of the #artsindex (published by the National Campaign for the Arts) of the East region’s position at the foot of the ranking table.  It’s position there – the report concludes –is ‘largely due to the low levels of financial investment, particularly from public funders (£9.76 per person in the East compared to £36.71 in Greater London – Treasury funding of £22.43 per person in London compares with £1.89 per person in the east of England).  Even taking the 2009/10 figures the East comes firmly last – some 8 index points behind the East Midlands/North West England.

Table 1  The English Regions (see note 2)

Rank Region Average over 3 years of the Index
1 Greater London 249
2 NE England 84
3 West Midlands 75
4 South East England 73
9 East of England 61

On first look it’s a depressing read – no one ever likes to be bottom.  Dig deeper though into the report and a much more complex picture begins to emerge.

Mind the gap – its closing

Firstly the gap between Greater London and all the regions (not just the East) is closing.  Over the three years of the first #ArtIndex) Greater London has dropped sixty six points whilst the East has ‘grown’ by 18points.  Evidence – the report suggests – not of a policy to redistribute funds (although undoubtedly this must have had an impact) but more recession hitting Greater London sooner (Greater London saw significant ‘drops’ in business contributions, trust and foundation income and individual giving as well as employment).

The Big Movers – How many index points gained / lost over period 2007-2010) – see note 3

Rank Region Growth / decline
1 SW England +23
2 SE England +22
3 East Midlands +20
4 East of England +18
9 Greater London -66

Where the East excels

Secondly its important to note where the East does score well in comparison to other regions.  The report itself notes that the East has one of the best arts engagement rates (second only to the South East) and perhaps surprisingly it also has a high index score for the number of adults digitally engaged with arts practice.

Adult arts participation – by region (see note 4)

Rank Region Score in 09/10 Average ove 3 years of the Index
1 SE England 118 115
2 East of England 113 113
3 SW England 105 108
4 West Midlands 98 95
6 Greater London 93 95
9 NE England 71 80.6

Adults digitally engaged in the Arts – by region (see note 5)

Rank Region Score in 09/10 % growth from 08/9
1 South East 169 44%
2 Greater London 161 34%
3 East of England 143 25%*
4 East Midlands 141 60%
8th North EastYorkshire & Humberside 108108 40%30%

(*the East had the lowest % growth rate of all the regions suggesting its high position might not be maintained)

Its also interesting to note the growth in this area from 2008/9 to 2009/10 (the years for which data was available) – average out at 39%.  It’s a growth which is surely set to continue with the continued success of art screenings at Cinemas, the new initiative launched by ACE & the BBC (SPACE) and as more and more companies find ways of distributing their work in different formats.

The East also scores well against other regions in the ‘adults attending an arts activity as a percentage of the population’  – once again coming second only by the South East region.

Adults attending an arts activity as a percentage of the population (see note 6)

Rank Region Score in 09/10 Average over 3 years of the Index
1 SE England 111 109
2 East of England 106 104
3 SW England 99 102
4 Yorkshire 96 92
7 Greater London 92 94
9 E Midlands 90 93

Like several regions the East saw a steady increase in employment (up 17 points).  No where near the biggest mover – the East Midlands with a whopping great increase of 141 points (surely not all of them are working at CURVE, Nottingham Contemporary, New Art Exchange and the other recently opened EM lottery new builds!).

Private income

With a Catalyst bid looming for Eastern Angles I was particularly interested in the regional breakdown of the private income figures (taken from the Arts and Business Benchmarking tool) for the East.  The first thing of immediate and significant note is the huge gulf in individual giving in Greater London compared to – well compared to anywhere in the regions.  In 2009/10 Greater London achieved an index score of 580 which compares to the next most successful region (the South East) which achieved 17.  The East scored 10 – so set against that context Eastern Angles Copperfield programme is even more successful than I first thought.

It’s a discrepancy which is reflected in both trust and foundation and business contributions too.  Dan Jarvis MP has gone on record (and there is evidence of cross party support) in wanting to at least try and reverse some of this huge gap.  In relation to the stat that the wealthiest 10% give 1% of their income compared to the bottom 10% who give 3% NCA trustee Sam West said ‘I don’t mind people being rich – I do mind them being mean’.  He could have added ‘and London biased’.  Anything politicians can do to incentivise more private income – from whatever source – in the regions should be welcomed.

Which does rather beg the question (and yes I realise this is with the benefit of hindsight – but as A&B have been quick to point out these figures are ‘old’) why the Catalyst programme does not have different income targets for London and regional organisations.  An income target of £120K for a regional arts org is clearly a far harder task and a much harder challenge than for a Greater London organisation.

Private Investment in the Arts (see note 7)

(the ranking here is based on how a region ranks across all three areas.  Thus greater London which was ranked first in all three areas scored ‘3’ whilst the East scored 22 (9th,7th and 6th).  The region with the lowest score ranked first and so on)

Rank Region Business Investment Average over 3 years Trust + Foundations Average over 3 years Individual Giving Average over 3 years
1 Greater London 335 369.3 398 432.3 580 432.6
2 North East 89 104.6 86 89.3 12 13.3
2 South West 48 47.3 78 51.3 15 12.6
4 South East 36 43.3 72 63.3 17 23
7 East of England 24 29 41 38.6 10 11.6
8 East Midlands 25 28.3 31 31.3 8 9.6
8 West Midlands 25 28.3 31 31.3 8 9.6


Although not the weakest region overall (that falls to the Midlands) the East struggles in terms of private income.  It comes 9th (last) in terms of business contributions, 7th in terms of trusts and foundations and 6th in terms of private giving

Quality Experience?

Given the relatively high levels of attendance and participation (see above) its perhaps not surprising that in the East there is a reasonable satisfaction with local arts provision.   Curiously its Greater London which is the least satisfied.   However in terms of the adults reporting a ‘high quality’ experience the region does not score so well – coming bottom of the rankings .   There are likely to be a number of reasons behind this – the rural nature of the region with (relatively) few urban conurbations, poor transport links, lack of a strong touring circuit within the region and fewer arts organisations and artists living and working in the region.  Still this figure is slightly surprising with the East – boasting amongst others – world class institutions like Aldeburgh and the Norwich and Norfolk Festival.  It will be interesting to see if recent capital developments (like first site), investment in ‘cold spots’ like Peterborough and incoming organisations like METAL and the Robert Pacitti company together with initiatives like HOUSE make a difference in future years.  Initiatives too like Escalator are significantly encouraging and nurturing the next generation of artists.

Adults Reporting Satisfaction with local arts provision (see note 8)

Rank Region Score in 09/10
1 SE England 113
2 Yorkshire 112
3 West Midlands 109
4 East of England 106
South West 106
9 Greater London 94

Adults reporting ‘High Quality’ Experience (see note 9)

Rank Region Score in 09/10
1 West Midlands 116
2 North East 112
3 North West 111
3 South West 111
6 Greater London 105
9 East of England 98



So clearly it’s a mixed picture for the East region.   Mixed rather than all bad news.  The number of adults engaged in the arts as attenders, participants and through digital means is something worth shouting about and indeed building upon.  Certainly it seems to be the experience at Eastern Angles where a loyal audience is very definitely engaged in many different ways!

Like all the other regions we are going to need considerable help from policy makers in playing catch up  with Greater London in terms of private income.

Then comes the endless chicken and egg question – is the lack of high quality experiences as a result of the comparably low investment in the region?

What is certainly true in the East and elsewhere is that in future years the Index will undoubtedly reflect the triple squeeze of 15% cuts to ACE England funding, a 28% fall in local authority funding and recession hit audience numbers.   New money will come on stream from the National Lottery  ( DCMS have already indicated that the proportion of lottery funds devoted to the arts will go up to 20% by April 2012 and Ed Vaizey at the launch intimated it might be more than was first anticipated) which will partially offset the ‘pain’.  In the East it will be both exciting and interesting to see how that is used to continue to close the gap by developing the undoubted talent and high quality artists and organisations we have in the region, developing the infrastructure and attracting more high quality work and artists to the region.   In 2009 / 2010 the East had the lowest contribution from the Lottery (at £1.15 per person) – lets hope when the figures for 2012/3 are reviewed that situation has changed…..


  1. All the data in this post has been extracted from the NCA’s Arts Index – a summary of which can be found here.  I take full responsibility for errors contained within.  Where I share ‘ranked’ tables I show the top four places and the lowest placed region together with Greater London and the East if they are outside those positions.  The full data can be obtained by joining the NCA
  2. Data ‘lifted’ from the NCA publication – UK ARTS INDEX (headline pamphlet)
  3. Data extracted from the information contained within Fig 35 – regional index scores for each year.  P47 of the Arts Index.
  4. Extracted from figs 40-48 – regional graphs by indicator. PP57-65 of the Arts Index.  The data on which the Arts Index draws for this indicator comes from the DCMS Taking Part survey
  5. Extracted from figs 40-48 – regional graphs by indicator. PP57-65 of the Arts Index.  The data on which the Arts Index draws for this indicator comes from the DCMS Taking Part survey
  6. Extracted from figs 40-48 – regional graphs by indicator. PP57-65 of the Arts Index.  The data on which the Arts Index draws for this indicator comes from the
  7. Extracted from figs 40-48 – regional graphs by indicator. PP57-65 of the Arts Index.  The data on which the Arts Index draws for this indicator comes from Arts & Business Benchmarking tool.
  8. Extracted from figs 40-48 – regional graphs by indicator. PP57-65 of the Arts Index.  The data on which the Arts Index draws for this indicator comes from the Best Value Performance Indicator Surveys (2007-8) and Place Survey (2008-9)
  9. Extracted from figs 40-48 – regional graphs by indicator. PP57-65 of the Arts Index.  The data on which the Arts Index draws for this indicator comes from DCMS Taking Part survey.

5 thoughts on “The Arts Index – from an East perspective!

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