#CaseForCultureDorset is an ongoing campaign to secure a stable and thriving future for culture in our county

Culture is vital. It boosts our economy, improves the wellbeing of residents and visitors and creates a strong sense of place and belonging. We’ve put together four cases to demonstrate why culture counts and the enormous positive impact is has in Dorset.


Case One: Arts and Culture Boosts Economy

As a recent report from Arts Council England shows, the arts and culture sector is a significant contributor to the UK’s economy. Adding £10.8bn at the last count in 2016, the sector has now overtaken agriculture in terms of GDP contribution and continues to prove its worth, even on a local scale.

In 2018, Dorset was the first location in the UK to host ‘Dippy the Dinosaur’. Over 150,000 people flocked to Dorset County Museum in Dorchester (now Dorset Museum) to marvel at the Natural History Museum’s oldest replica of a Diplodocus skeleton. They contributed to a visitor spend of over £2.2 million and the long-term benefits are still present today.

“Dippy on Tour demonstrated the positive economic and social effect on an area that happens when people travel to enjoy a cultural experience. Both residents and visitors spend more money in shops and restaurants, park for longer and use public transport, and visit other attractions. Dorchester and Dorset have many cultural assets, and it is great that we can learn from the Dippy on Tour experience to benefit the future”.

Jacky Thorne, Culture+ Tourism Lead, the Arts Development Company

Case Two: Arts and Culture Raises the National Profile of the County

Storytelling is a powerful way to connect us with history and to each other, and when the arts is thrown in for good measure the effects can be monumental. Art can break down language barriers and can create memorable and universal ways of commemorating significant events, and Danny Boyle’s Pages of the Sea is an ideal example of this. This beautifully moving tribute for the First World War Centenary attracted an incredible media hype that helped to put Dorset firmly on the map for arts, culture and heritage.

  • The ‘Pages of the Sea’ website has been visited by people in over 176 countries.
  • Almost half the population of the country were aware of the project
  • An estimated 14,000 people visited Dorset beaches for the event
  • It hit the front page of many of the national newspapers
  • It generated an incredible national media value of £10 million

Dorset was a key location in Danny Boyle’s Pages of the Sea commissioned and produced by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War Centenary. It was delivered with partner organisations across the UK who worked with their local communities to create the event on 11 November 2018. The Dorset event was produced by Activate Performing Arts.

Supported by The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Big Lottery Fund, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with additional support from Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and National Rail.
The Dorset project was supported by Dorset Council (formerly West Dorset District Council, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and Dorset County Council), along with support from Lyme Regis Town Council. For full credits and thanks see Activate’s webpage

Case Three: Arts and Culture Shape our Future  

Arts in schools is being squeezed, and its value has been brought into question. In general, students are given less time and resources for creativity in school in favour of the STEM subjects, but at what cost? This unfortunate shift in the education system will have a number of detrimental effects, but it has sparked some enlightening research about how creativity shapes our future generation. An arts education doesn’t just provide a way for children to express themselves and communicate their ideas and ideals, it also develops vital transferable skills such as confidence, empathy, collaboration, improved communication and perseverance. These skills give our young people an increased chance of finding employment and a better quality of life.

In Dorset, B Sharp works with young people to run music making sessions in which they create their own tracks and songs. Taking part improved young people’s wellbeing and developed their confidence, self-efficacy and social skills.

In 2018 -2019 B Sharp worked with 401 young people regularly. Of those that gave feedback
– 83% improved their self-esteem and felt more confident in themselves
– 62% felt they had improved their self-efficacy, and ability to achieve what they want
– 56% felt more socially confident

“Since joining I have met a lot of people, made so many more friends and most importantly gained so much confidence”
I, age 17 

B Sharp is supported by Youth Music, Lyme Regis Town Council and the former West Dorset District Council. For full information see B Sharp’s website.

Case Four: Arts and Culture Generates Value

Securing funding can be a difficult and competitive and especially now Arts Council England has been forced to cut its 2018-2022 budget by £156m following a collapse in Lottery sales. Despite this squeeze the arts continue to be supported by the volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to events, projects and venues across the U.K. Their generosity helps to fund the arts and contributes to the national economy.

In 2016/17 the voluntary sector as a whole contributed £17.1 billion to the economy, according to NCVO, and in 2014/15, the most common activity of UK voluntary organisations was the provision of social services (18%), followed by cultural and recreational services (14%).

For comparison, the voluntary sector workforce is just under three-fifths of the size of the NHS workforce, (the single largest employer in the UK with a headcount of around 1.5 million) and more than two and a half times that of Tesco’s workforce (one of the largest employers with 324,000 staff in 2018).” – NCVO

However, the value of volunteering is more far reaching than our economy. In a Cause4 blog post ‘the value of volunteers’ they state:

“Research commissioned by the Royal Voluntary Service has shown that volunteering can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing specifically with depression, quality of life, life satisfaction, loneliness and social isolation. Therefore, the act of volunteering can reduce the effects of loneliness and isolation increasing health and wellbeing across the UK.”

In Dorset, our volunteers have been invaluable for venues, organisations and festivals. Their passion and hard work contribute not only to Dorset’s vibrant arts, culture and heritage but to the national voluntary workforce that is the backbone of the arts sector.

Total recorded hours of volunteering for museums in Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth: 78,244 hours, totalling an economic value of £520,000
Total recorded hours of volunteering for ArtsReach: 3,400, totalling an economic value of over £22,600
Total recorded hours of volunteering for 2019 b-side festival: 1,000 hours, totalling an economic value of £6,756


b-side is an arts organisation based in Dorset, UK. They offer artists a range of opportunities to engage with and respond to its programme – through bursaries, commissions, residencies, artists CPD and work with young people.
Artsreach is a registered charity that brings high quality performances of live theatre, music, dance and family shows to the heart of rural communities across Dorset.
South West Museum Development Programme supports museums in the region to achieve sustainable improvements and maximise their benefits to audiences and communities.


Infographics by illustrator Bridie Cheeseman

Get Involved

Join our Twitter campaign and help us to spread the word about Case for Culture Dorset. Don’t forget to tag @artsdevco and use the hashtags #CaseForCultureDorset and #CultureMatters on Twitter and Instagram.

Copy and paste these tweets:

Arts and culture is vital to strengthen our community and boost our local economy. Make the case and join the campaign https://theartsdevelopmentcompany.org.uk/case-for-culture-dorset/ #CaseForCultureDorset #CultureMatters

Arts and culture is woven into the very fabric of Dorset. Help us secure its future. Make the case and join the campaign https://theartsdevelopmentcompany.org.uk/case-for-culture-dorset/  #CaseForCultureDorset

According to @ace_national the arts and culture sector is a significant contributor to the UK’s economy overtaking agriculture! (Adding £10.8bn at the last count in 2016) It continues to prove its worth, especially in #Dorset. Read on to find out why https://theartsdevelopmentcompany.org.uk/case-for-culture-dorset/ #CaseForCultureDorset #CultureMatters

Download the infographics below and use on your own social media and websites. Tag @artsdevco and use the hashtags #CaseForCultureDorset and #CultureMatters on Twitter and Instagram.

Share your impact online. Do you have data, stories, photos or films that show the value of arts and culture in Dorset? Add them to the campaign and use the hashtags #CaseForCultureDorset and #CultureMatters on Twitter and Instagram. Looking for inspiration to get you started? Arts Council England’s ‘Make the Case on Social Media’ could help.

Copy this into your email signature (This is a link to this webpage):

What’s the value of arts and culture in Dorset? Find out here #CaseForCultureDorset 


Downloadable Resources

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Case One: The Impact of ‘Dippy on Tour’ on Dorset’s Economy

Case Two: How Pages of the Sea put Dorset on the map

Case Three: Arts and Culture Shapes our Future

Case Four: Arts and Culture Generates Value