An in-depth study of voluntary and amateur arts groups and informal adult learning in the arts in England. Commissioned by DCMS and Arts Council England to improve the knowledge base on the voluntary and amateur arts sector in England, it is the first of its kind on a national scale and represents the first step towards developing a comprehensive understanding of a very complex sector.
Formally organised voluntary and amateur arts groups are a crucially important part of the arts ecology and account for almost one fifth of all arts participation in England, although in some regions it is much higher than that – rising to 36% in the South West.
There are 49,140 groups across the country with a total of 5.9 million members. An additional 3.5 million people volunteer as extras or helpers – a total of 9.4 million people taking part.
The sector has an income of £543m a year. In general, it is not looking for core public funding. Groups are entrepreneurial about generating income, including ticket income, subscriptions, selling programmes, local sponsorship and other fundraising. Groups take pride in this remarkable ability to be self-sustaining and deliver quality artistic product.