Culture in Crisis: impacts of Covid-19 on the UK cultural sector and where we go from here

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Culture in Crisis: impacts of Covid-19 on the UK cultural sector and where we go from here

© The Lowry in Lockdown. Photo: Nathan Chandler
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By Ben Walmsley, Centre for Cultural Value
Abigail Gilmore
Dave O’Brien
Anne Torreggiani, The Audience Agency


Culture in Crisis shares research findings from one of the world’s largest investigations into the impacts of Covid-19 on the cultural industries.

The research project was led by the Centre for Cultural Value in collaboration with The Audience Agency and the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The research is based on over 230 interviews, labour force data from the Office for National Statistics, social media analysis, five waves of a UK population survey (the Cultural Participation Monitor led by The Audience Agency) and an analysis of the cultural ecosystem of Greater Manchester.

Over 15 months, research findings were shared in real time with policymakers and more widely, so that cultural sector policy and practice could be informed by evidence emerging from the project.

Three key findings:

  • Audiences: While the shift to digital transformed cultural experiences for those already engaged with cultural activities, it failed to diversify cultural audiences.
  • Workforce: The UK’s cultural sector is undoubtedly at an inflection point and facing imminent burnout alongside significant skills and workforce gaps.
  • Organisations: In light of the pandemic and Black Lives Matter, many cultural organisations reevaluated their purpose and their relevance to local communities, which was complemented by increased local engagement.

Download and read the full report and executive summary to read the findings in full.

The Centre for Cultural Value will be sharing a series of policy recommendations over the next few months so we can all play our part in creating positive and equitable change.

Published: 2022
Resource type: Research