Culture as Commodity?: The Economics of the Arts and Built Heritage in the UK


Culture as Commodity? is an invaluable contribution to the understanding of the economic functioning of the cultural sector. This comprehensive study examines support for the cultural sector from public, private and voluntary sources, and charts its distribution throughout the UK. It looks in detail at employment and audiences across the sector, and consumer expenditure. The study then focuses on specific areas of activity in the cultural sector, both supported and commercial:

  • the performing arts
  • media - including literature, film and video
  • the combined arts, including arts festivals, and the built heritage, including historic buildings, monuments and sites.

The authors draw on the findings of an extensive survey specially undertaken for this report, which examined organisations and individuals in receipt of support. This outlines the financial operation of each area of activity through turnover and expenditure, and assesses the relative importance of support to the sector and earned income. The study looks at each activity in the context of the broader cultural sector where commercial operations prevail, and attempts to situate the overall cultural sector within the economy as a whole, in order to compare support for culture with support for other sectors.

Culture as Commodity ? provides an invaluable profile of the supported cultural sector, which will serve as the basis of any subsequent investigations which might examine the impact of recent changes to the funding of the cultural sector - in particular the National Lottery. Essential reading for all those involved in the funding and management of the cultural sector, and for students on a wide range of arts and economics-related courses.