BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE FOR THE ARTS: how to use the Arts Index

The Arts Index provides data for arts organisations to make their case for increased public funding of arts activities, but it can be used in exactly the same way by individuals. Here's how you can be your own advocate for the arts.

We publish the Arts Index every two years to give a snapshot picture of the health of the arts sector – a clear and concise summary of trends over time on everything from public funding to numbers of young people studying arts subjects and from attendance figures to employment in the creative industries.

Of course, we’re not suggesting for one minute that the arts can be summarised in a set of figures.  But there are times when data and objective analysis can be a really useful part of your arsenal, whether you’re making a case for funding, compiling evidence for a report or planning a campaign.  And perhaps now more than ever as we face an uncertain post-COVID-19 future we have a responsibility to be our own advocates for the arts and make the case for continued investment.

So here are a few suggestions of how you can use the Index:

Communicating with Policy Makers and Politicians

We’re entering a period of rapid change as politicians, trade bodies and civil servants cope with the new reality of COVID-19.  And as one of the sectors to be most adversely affected by the pandemic we need to keep arts at the forefront of the political agenda.  Policymakers need to know what’s happening. With its clear, independent analysis, the Arts Index can support your submission to the DCMS Inquiry into impact of COVID 19 on DCMS sectors for example (submissions being accepted until 19 June) or a letter to your local MP.

Making the case for public funding

The Arts Index charts how, since 2010, there has been a 41% cut in treasury funding and a 42% cut in local government funding.  In response, arts organisations have been incredibly entrepreneurial and managed to raise earned income (ticket sales, hires etc) by 37%.  But that makes them very vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.  We’re already seeing venues such as Nuffield Southampton collapsing into administration and redundancy consultations at Birmingham Hippodrome.  There is no fat left to cut and many more organisations will fail without increased funding support.  Use the Arts Index to make your case!

Winning Over Hearts and Minds

But of course, the arts aren’t about money. They’re about so much more.  As Phil Jupitus says, “Arts funding in England probably delivers more cultural, social and economic return on investment than anywhere else in the world.”    The Index tells us that around 60% of the public support funding of arts and culture from taxes.  Which is ok, but clearly we can do more as a sector to tell the public about the value and impact of their support.  Using the Index data to help make the case is on our to-do list, and it would be great to have your help in doing it! If you’re up for getting involved with this, please do join our mailing list or consider becoming a paid supporter (for as little as £3/month!) – just click the JOIN US button in the top banner of all of our webpages.

Planning a Campaign

Are you planning a campaign?  The Arts Index can provide the stats over time on a variety of indicators, from the proportion of black and minority ethnic adults taking part in the arts (below average and showing no signs of growth) to the number of children choosing arts subjects at GCSE (worryingly down by 20%).

So, whether you’re looking for data to contextualise the work you do, support a funding bid or persuade your local MP about the value of the arts, we hope that the Arts Index will become a key tool for you and your go-to research publication.

And in the meantime, if you have any questions of comments about the Index, please do let us know.

 

Written by Jenny Harris, Producer – Arts Index