Future Arts Centre venues are more successful than the rest of the sector at attracting the audiences least likely to engage in the arts, research suggests.

Photo from The Albany of registration
The Albany theatre relaunch, September 2016
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Camilla Greenwell

Major arts centres in England have grown their combined turnover by 19% over the past three years, according to a new report by Future Arts Centres (FAC).

The nine National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) that form the Future Arts Centres partnership reported turnover totalling £21.6m. Revenues were boosted by diversifying their income streams and implementing a series of “innovative” initiatives with other sectors.

The partnership, which supports a wider network of more than 90 arts centres, was established in 2013 to champion the achievements of arts centres, raise their profile and support their growth and sustainability. Its annual report assesses the FAC’s artistic, social and economic contribution in 2015/16.

Audience

The report reveals that more than 2.1m people attended events, activities and exhibitions at their venues throughout the year.

Analysis of box office data suggests that an average of 20% of the FAC partners’ audiences were in categories labelled ‘least likely to engage in the arts’ – 6% higher than the average for arts organisations country-wide.

The FAC believe they are “engaging harder-to-reach audiences successfully through relationships with their local communities, with diversity embedded in all aspects of their work from artistic programmes to staff employed.”

Income

79% of the FAC partners’ turnover came from earned income and fundraising. Average ticket prices were less than half those of the sector as a whole. Visitors to FAC venues paid an average of £8.75 for a ticket, compared to the national average of £22.84. 

The average donation from ticket bookers was £2.11, but this figure was higher among those who lived closer to their venue. Over half of audiences lived within five miles of the arts centre they visited, and 76% lived within 15 miles of the venue.

Average local authority funding for FAC venues was £154k, and average Arts Council England funding was £343k.

Innovation

The annual report praises external partnerships, such as ARC Stockton’s £200k collaboration with a local Clinical Commissioning Group from the health sector, which led to an investment of over £200k in creative arts activity for older people at risk of hospital admission or social isolation.

Similarly, it highlights the Albany’s partnership with Lewisham Homes, worth £150k a year, which supports the development of “thriving neighbourhoods” in Lewisham.

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