V&A Director calls for tourist levy

Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum
01 May 2024

Leading museum figures push the idea of a tourist tax as a way to help fund museums and galleries in the face of ongoing economic challenges.

Visitor numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels

the British Museum
19 Mar 2024

Solid year-on-year rise in attendence figures for UK visitor attractions, but the total remains 11% down on pre-pandemic levels.

Music industry 'hugely important' for tourism

22 Nov 2023

Culture, Media and Sport Committee told it is vital government gives tourism strategic importance and ensures international musicians continue to come to the UK.

Covent Garden street performers 'under threat'

Two unicyclists surrounded by spectators juggle with clubs in front of Covent Garden Piazza
21 Nov 2023

Campaigners say 99% of traders on the Piazza are not in favour of Westminster Council clamping down on street performers.

Arts festival comes to York this autumn

13 Sep 2023

York will host a new festival of comedy, spoken word and music this autumn.

Taking place in the city’s theatres, music venues and pubs, York Alive begins in late September and runs until the end of October.

Acts performing include the musicians Paul Carrack and Gabrielle, while comedian, author and presenter Ruby Wax will open the festival on 28 September.

Festival director Miles Salter previously programmed the York Literature Festival from 2008 to 2016. He said: "I'm still driven by the same desire to see York have an exciting, inspiring arts festival”, adding that he hopes York Alive will become “a regular yearly event”.

Salter said that although York is popular with visitors, he wants to show the city is "more than Romans and Vikings".

He said, "It's home to many talented writers, filmmakers, musicians, artists, actors, comedians and dancers. That's why we want York Alive to celebrate this talent, as well as our great venues and fantastic city."

City of Culture contributes to record tourism for Coventry

07 Sep 2023

A record number of tourists visited Coventry last year, providing a financial boost of £750m to the city's economy, with the rise attributed in part to the City of Culture festival.

The BBC reports that more than 11 million people paid a visit to the city in 2022, an increase of 3m from the previous year, and 1m more than the previous record in 2019.

In 2019, tourists brought in £600m in extra revenue to the city, and three years later, this rose to £750.86m, a report by Global Tourism Solutions reveals.

"Pre-pandemic we saw 10m visitors come to Coventry and we were celebrating that year," Paul Jones, the managing director of Destination Coventry told the BBC.

"The pandemic had a really decimating effect on our visitor economy, it wiped 60% off in terms of volume and value of visitors.

"We were hopeful 2022 would be a great year but we weren't sure if we'd get back to those pre-pandemic levels, so to add a million visitors on top of our record year, we were very happy."

"You can't deny the fact that the City of Culture programme really shone a spotlight on Coventry internationally."

London-based arts organisations to get Vogue funds

Anna Wintour wearing sunglasses
30 Aug 2023

Proceeds from event organised by fashion magazine will go towards supporting the capital's arts scene following recent funding cuts.

National Gallery ranked best value museum in Europe

17 Aug 2023

A study looking at reviews, admissions fees, Instagram popularity and opening hours to determine which European museum is the best value has ranked the UK's National Gallery in first place.

The research, conducted by The Knowledge Academy, placed the National History Museum second. Both London museums hold a 4.5 star rating on Tripadvisor and offer free entry.

The Louvre in Paris was ranked third, while the British Museum, the other UK entry in the top 10, came sixth.

UK-based entries in the top 20 are the Victoria and Albert Museum (=11th), The Roman Baths in Bath (16th), Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh (19th) and the Churchill War Rooms (20th).

Museum and gallery visits remain 25% down on pre-pandemic

The interior of the National Gallery
14 Aug 2023

Fewer international tourists since the pandemic identified as one of the reasons why visitor levels for leading museums and galleries are yet to fully recover.

Place music at centre of planning and licensing, report urges

Ed Sheeran performing on stage
19 Jul 2023

Industry body UK Music wants the needs of the country's music infrastructure to be central to local government decision making.

Frazer seeks theatre 'power shift' from US to UK

London's West End at night
27 Jun 2023

Culture Secretary says mix of theatre in London is 'stronger than ever' and wants Creative Industries Sector Vision to spark a shift in the balance of power from Broadway to the West End.

Edinburgh Fringe: Cruise ship accommodation plan emerges

Old Leith Harbour at Dusk, Edinburgh, Scotland.
07 Jun 2023

A cruise ship with capacity for 1,300 people will dock in Leith during the 2024 Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of efforts to address a shortage of accomodation in the city during festival season.

Plymouth music festival cancelled due to financial pressures

18 Apr 2023

The 1 Big Summer Festival in Plymouth will not go ahead this year due to the cost-of-living crisis, organisers have announced.

The festival was due to be held in Hoe on 25-26 August, but financial pressures for both organisers and visitors have been cited as the reason for its cancellation, the BBC reported.

“A perfect storm of rising costs, reduction in sponsorship income, an end of support for tourism and hospitality such as VAT reductions, and an unprecedented strain on people's disposable income have sadly left the event untenable for this year,” organisers said in a statement.

People who have already purchased tickets will be refunded within 21 days.

Seven UK sites bidding for UNESCO World Heritage Status

11 Apr 2023

York's historic city centre and an iron-age settlement in Shetland are among seven sites to receive government backing to bid for UNESCO World Heritage Status.

The sites have been added to the UK Government's 'Tentative List', published every 10 years.

The list sets out the sites which it feels have the best chance of winning the status.

York city centre and the Zenith of Iron Age are both listed for their cultural importance.

Other sites to gain government support are: The People's Park, Birkenhead, a pioneering urban park that opened in 1847; and the Gracehill Moravian Church Settlements in Northern Ireland.

Also listed are three natural sites: East Atlantic Flyway, a migratory bird route over Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent; The Flow Country, a vast expanse of blanket bog in the North of Scotland; and the Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas, in the UK Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands.

Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson said: "All the locations being put forward would be worthy recipients of this accolade – and we will give them our full backing so they can benefit from the international recognition it can bring."

If successful, the seven sites would join the 33 other World Heritage Sites already based in the UK.

Edinburgh Fringe 'at crisis point', organisers warn

People walking through Edinburgh during the Fringe
28 Mar 2023

Edinburgh Fringe Society calls for long-term support and investment from government in order to secure future of annual event.

Museum and distillery opens in Northumberland

28 Mar 2023

A new Anglo-Saxon museum and whisky distillery is hoping to become a major tourist attraction for Northumberland.

The £16m project is inspired by the summer palace of 7th Century Northumbrian royalty, which was discovered nearby in 1949. The distillery revives a local tradition which, according to the attraction's owners, became dormant around 200 years ago.

Ad Gefrin – which means 'by the hill of goats' in Anglo-Saxon – is situated in the small town of Wooler on a previously derelict site. Items on display will tell the story of the 7th Century royal court and include loans from the British Museum.

The museum is owned by Eileen Ferguson, who with her husband also owns haulage company Ferguson Transport. 

She said she hoped Ad Gefrin, which is employing more than 60 people, would be "the catalyst for regeneration" in the area.

Audiences turn to sites with free entry

interior of the main hall of National Museum of Scotland
23 Mar 2023

Annual audience figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions show that post-pandemic, audiences are returning quicker to cultural sites offering free entry.

Chancellor to announce £8.6m for Edinburgh festivals

14 Mar 2023

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce £8.6m of funding for Edinburgh’s festivals in tomorrow's Spring Budget.

The Independent reports that some of the funding could go towards a permanent HQ for the Fringe.

Hunt said: “From Edinburgh’s Fringe to the International Festival, the city is world-famous for culture and it’s right to support it and help it grow.

“Millions of people flock to Edinburgh from all over the globe for its festivals, creating opportunities for incredible comedians, musicians, artists and more, as well as thousands of jobs each year – all contributing immensely to the UK’s shared economy.”

UK Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the money "will help us safeguard a future where upcoming British talent can capitalise on the opportunities on offer".

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack declared the funding “fantastic news for Scotland". 



Nottingham Council to consider reopening city's castle

14 Mar 2023

Nottingham Castle could fully reopen to the public in June if plans are approved at a council meeting next week.

The visitor attraction and galleries closed in November when the Nottingham Castle Trust went into liquidation. 

An executive board at Nottingham City Council will consider a report recommending the authority should take on the castle's running costs of up to £2.1m over three years.

If approved, Nottingham Castle would be run as part of the council's museums and galleries service.

The city centre venue opened in June 2021 following a three-year, £30m renovation project partially funded with an £8m loan from the city council.

Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis said: "We committed to looking at ways to reopen the castle as soon as possible after Nottingham Castle Trust went into liquidation.

"This report recommends a way to do that by using the expertise of the council's well-established museums and galleries service, which has previously run the site and has the skills, specialist knowledge and cultural partnership connections."

The report, which also includes other options such as keeping the whole site closed and only reopening the gardens, will be considered at a meeting on Tuesday 21 March.

Jersey heritage sites to open all year round

14 Feb 2023

Jersey Heritage has decided to open almost all of its heritage sites year-round following increases in government funding and local visitor numbers.

Jon Carter, the charity’s Chief Executive, says the decision to permanently open the majority of sites when the 2023 season begins on 1 March marks “an exciting new chapter”.

Last year, the Jersey Government committed 1% of its annual budget to support the island’s arts, heritage and culture sector, which Carter says has “undoubtedly been a catalyst”.

He told the BBC funds had been increased as 30% of total visits to Jersey’s heritage sites were being made by locals.

“We know that our heritage sites are popular with visitors and they will now have more choice for excursions if they choose to visit Jersey outside of the traditional holiday months,” Carter added.

The news follows plans to upgrade Jersey’s flagship theatre venue with a £11.5m makeover, announced last week.


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