The economic output from the cultural sector is now just under £30bn, having grown by 7.3% in one year.

A close up shot of a microphone
The majority of cultural sector growth was in the film, TV and music subsector

The economic contribution of cultural industries including theatre, galleries and music to the UK continues to surge upwards, growing faster than the wider economy for the sixth time in seven years.

New DCMS economic estimates show the cultural sector contributed £29.5bn in 2017 – a 7.2% increase on the £27.5bn it had generated the year before.

Similar growth was seen for both the digital sector and the wider creative industries, with which the cultural sector has some overlap, which grew by 7.3% and 7.1% respectively.

By comparison, the entire UK economy grew from £1.76bn to £1.84bn between 2016 and 2017 – an increase of 4.8%.

Cultural breakdown

The cultural sector – which also includes radio, photography, crafts, museums libraries and archives, cultural education, and historic buildings – now makes up 1.6% of the UK’s total output, according to Government gross value added (GVA) figures.

Most of this (over 60%) was from the film, TV and music subsector, which has seen growth of 39% since 2010. But almost a quarter (24.8%) came from the arts.

“This sub-sector has increased by 62.6% since 2010, from £4.5bn in 2010 to £7.3bn in 2017, and increased by 6.2% since 2016 (£6.9bn in 2016),” says DCMS.

Creative industries

The wider creative industries, which include the cultural sector alongside other business areas like architecture and advertising, are now worth over £100bn – 5.5% of total UK GVA. They contribute over three times more to the UK economy than the cultural sector alone.

But analysis of the Government figures shows that 2017 was the first year that growth in the cultural sector outstripped growth in the wider creative industries since 2010 – the first year for which comparable information is available.

The Government has been keen to emphasise the value of the creative industries to the UK’s reputation and economic stability. In recent years, though, it has been criticised for failing to identify the fundamental role of the arts in this growth – both in the publication of its industrial strategy and in details of the £150m Creative Industries Sector Deal.

This called for the development of creative clusters and a new creative careers programme, but was criticsed for ignoring threats to the arts from current education policy in favour of a focus on digital business.

In total, the economic sectors which DCMS oversees grew by 3.4% to £268bn in 2017, making up 14.6% of UK’s GVA.