“Museums in England generate £2.64bn of income a year and employ almost 40,000 people, according to a report published last week by Arts Council England (ACE).
Drawing on evidence from three financial years, 2008-09, 2010-11 and 2012-13, the Economic Impact of Museums in England report estimated that the nation’s 2,720 museums generate an average of £3 of income for every £1 of public sector funding invested in the sector.
The income figures include earned income from activities such as research, learning, retail and venue hire, as well as income from investments and donations.
Meanwhile, the total output – the value of goods and services produced by museums – is £1.45bn, according to the report, meaning that for every £1 of public sector grant received, the museum sector generates an estimated £2.20 of direct economic output.
Breaking the figures down by museum type, the report found that museums funded directly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) generate 36% of the total output, independent museums generate 25%, and local authority museums generate 11%.
The report also assessed the indirect economic impact of museums, looking at areas including their procurement of goods and services; visitor spend within the local economy; regeneration and place-making; and engagement with business and business support.
In a case study of Imperial War Museums, the report estimated that overnight visitors to the organisation’s north-west site spent an average of £63.88 in the local economy.
Meanwhile, Beamish, the Living Museum of the North, spent about 70% of its £2.35m annual budget for goods and services within the north-east region.
Likewise, Chatham Historic Dockyard in the south-east also spent about 70% of its annual expenditure in the region, and estimated that this investment supported around 140 additional jobs in Kent.
“This report helps museums understand the contribution they already make, and helps us all to make the case for public investment in museums, said Althea Efunshile, the acting chief executive of ACE.
“With continued support from local authorities, DCMS and other public and private funders, museums can play an ever more important role in our economy and communities.”
ACE released the report to coincide with the announcement of the 108 recipients of its new £17.5m museum resilience fund 2015-18, which is aimed at helping museums become more sustainable.
The arts council has also released an advocacy toolkit to help arts and cultural organisations make the case for public funding in the run-up to the general election on 7 May.
One of the organisations to receive funding from the museum resilience fund was the Association of Cultural Entreprises, which won a grant of £360,000 to roll out a retail resilience programme for museums across England.
The programme will offer commercial development training and peer-to-peer support to equip museums with expert retail skills.
“At a time when our cultural institutions are under increasing threat from funding cuts and closure, it is crucial that economically-viable systems are put in place to secure the longevity of England’s valuable cultural economy,” said John Stachiewicz, the chair of the Association of Cultural Entreprises.
“This programme will enable more museums and galleries to independently generate sustainable income through retail.””