The importance of culture in Shropshire
The cultural sector (creative industries, tourism, and sport and leisure) supports around 15,000 jobs (15,750 when sole proprietors are included) through 1,380 organisations, and generated a value in gross value added (GVA) terms of an estimated £432m in 2018. This means that at least 12% of employment in Shropshire can be classed as cultural, with the sector contributing around 7% to the overall economy. Businesses are predominantly small, and self-employed enterprises are common.
This includes a strong visitor economy sector, which is forecast to grow by 74% in Shropshire between 2012 and 2036, taking the GVA to £367m. Despite a reduction in employees in creative industries over the past few years, this sector is forecast to grow even more strongly over the time period, by 174%, generating £331m by 2036, generating employment opportunities in higher value, professional jobs. The value of the natural and historic heritage offer is significant, with the economic return of visits to the environment estimated to be £100m per year. These are therefore important sectors for the local economy and should be supported going forward.
Before the pandemic there were over 13 million visitors a year to Shropshire, but the county ranked 40th out of the 50 most visited counties in the UK, and the spend per trip was around £10 per person per trip lower in Shropshire than the national average. This means that there’s potential to grow the market, even without increasing the number of visitors.
Culture is important to local people as well as visitors, with 70% of Shropshire residents visiting the natural environment at least once a week in 2018/19, which had increased by around 39% since 2009/10. More than half of Shropshire residents had attended an event, performance or festival in 2018/19, in line with the national average; 72% had attended an arts event, participated in an arts activity or visited a museum or gallery, and 36% had used a public library service. Sports and leisure are also important, with 61% of adults in Shropshire being physically active and achieving the recommended 150 minutes or more per week.
More information about the importance of culture can be found in Appendix 1- The Cultural Sector in Shropshire: Key Metrics. March 2021.