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FestivalsMeanBusiness Photo: Courtesy of Buxton Festival

FestivalsMeanBusiness–Research In 2000, the British Arts Festivals Association commissioned its first economic impact study into the UK arts festivals sector. Festivals Mean Business (FMB1) established a snapshot of the sector and proved invaluable in demonstrating the economic and cultural contribution that festivals make to the UK. In 2002, an update, Festivals Mean Business II (FMB2), showed how the arts festival sector had changed since 2000. In 2007, sam ( was commissioned to undertake the next stage of research - Festivals Mean Business III (FMB3). The purpose of this was to build upon the previous studies, to provide an upto-date picture of the UK arts festivals sector and to assess its contribution in the UK more accurately.

FMB3 provides a detailed overview of the BAFA membership and the wider arts festivals sector, looking specifically at the following areas:

• scope and scale • activity and programming • number of attendances and events • employment • financial activity and economic contribution

BritishArtsFestivalsAssociation The British Arts Festivals Association (BAFA) is a membership organisation with 120 arts festivals from across the UK. The association was founded over 30 years ago and it now has a wide-ranging membership. This includes large scale events such as the Edinburgh International Festival and Brighton Festival and smaller ones such as the Corsham Festival in Wiltshire and the East Neuk Festival in Scotland.

BAFA provides a range of services to its members, these include:

• networking and professional development events including the annual BAFA conference • a website with a library of sector specific resources

To find out more about BAFA or Festivals Mean Business III go to

• advocacy on behalf of members to organisations such as Arts Councils and on specific issues such as proposed new visa legislation for non-EU performers

British Arts Festivals Association 2nd Floor, 28 Charing Cross Road London WC2H 0DB

• free copies of the full Festivals Mean Business sector research - 2000, 2002 and 2008

020 7240 4532

Charity Registration Number: 1010867

• savings on Festival Insurance in partnership with La Playa

Produced by sam, 11B Dyke Road Mews, 74 Dyke Road, Brighton, BN1 3JD

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Cover photo: Adrian Harris

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FestivalsMeanBusiness The British Arts Festivals Association has conducted the largest survey of arts festivals to date in the UK; revealing a sector that is dynamic and vibrant. Festivals create some of the preeminent cultural events in the UK; they are at the leading edge of artistic innovation and present unparalleled opportunities for local communities

and visitors to engage with the arts. The 193 festivals that took part recorded over 5 million attendances, commissioned 200 new pieces of work and hosted 1,750 premieres. Festivals Mean Business III demonstrates that festivals have rapidly become skilled and sustainable businesses. A quarter of the survey respondents were established in the

past seven years and those that have been around a lot longer have proved themselves to be adept at re-invention and constant development; meeting the aspirations of their culturally progressive audiences. Festivals have proved themselves to be central to the cultural life of the UK – Festivals Mean Business.

Festivals are ubiquitous. There is no place, no continent, no country, no community, no culture, no civilisation in which they are not present. While they are regularly dismissed as trivial, their omnipresence would suggest that they exist to fulfil a profound need in humanity.

Jonathan Mills, Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, 2007.



Festivals generate wealth and employment, attract new investment and support the economy.

Festivals are demonstrating that they are successful businesses; able to attract investment from a broad range of public and private sources.

In 2006 – 2007 it is estimated that the membership of the British Arts Festivals Association* generated:

•BAFA’s members attracted £30m of investment in 2006 – 2007

•£12.9m in ticket sales •£5.4m in Arts Council investment •£5.2m through local authority contributions •£6.7m from commercial sponsorship •£4m from trusts and foundations •and in return they contributed £41.8m into

They have a strong track record in making money, equipping them to survive during an economic downturn and prosper in times of plenty.

•Festivals are effective and efficient businesses; BAFA members created, programmed and presented over 10,000 events using only 395 permanent core staff

the UK economy

•Festivals are excellent value for money. They operate on limited resources to create and present outstanding work

Festivals greatest economic contribution is through their visitors’ expenditure on local retail, accommodation and hospitality. In 2004, Brighton Festival demonstrated that visitors contributed 22 times more into the local economy than they spent on festival tickets.

•This is highlighted by the average cost per attendance of only £6.59

Photo: Matthew Andrews

Festivals are important employers. BAFA’s member organisations are estimated to have: Photo: Douglas Robertson

BuildingAudiences The festivals surveyed proved that they are skilled at attracting audiences for a wide range of events, including education activities for young people. Festivals play a pivotal role in building a sense of community, creating unique opportunities for people of all ages to come together.

•5.1m people attended the 193 festivals in this survey •250,000 people joined in education and community events run by festivals in the survey

•63% of the education events were created specifically for young people

In 2006 – 2007 BAFA members created 1,910 education, community and outreach events and projects involving 523,000 people.

•395 permanent staff •12,120 seasonal workers and freelance staff •3,900 volunteers For many, festivals provide their first experience of working in the arts - as volunteers on community and education projects or as seasonal workers helping to steward and organise different events. Festivals boost local economies in a variety of ways. They help places thrive through:

•creating a positive media profile •producing quality and innovative programmes which enrich the lives of residents

•attracting visitors who significantly contribute to the local economy

•creative use of public and historic spaces and buildings, adding to the sense of place

ShowcasingOurCulture Festivals are an essential part of the UK’s cultural ecology and economy. They act as a focus for innovation where artistic risk can flourish, pushing boundaries, challenging convention and creating life-affirming experiences. Festivals are creative powerhouses, in 2006/07 BAFA members:

•presented over 10,000 events •hosted 4,000 days of exhibitions •created nearly 200 new pieces of work •provided 50,530 opportunities for artists and performers

•staged 1,250 world premieres •and presented 500 national premieres These events ranged from the large scale spectacular aerial performances of Trans Express at the Henley Festival to the intimacy of a Mayan group from Mexico performing at Stonehenge during the Salisbury International Arts Festival.

Photo: Matthew Andrews

* Most festivals that were surveyed took place in 2006 when BAFA had 80 members. Since that time the membership has grown to 115 members.

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FMB3 Advocacy Document  

Festivals Research

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