Author(s): The Oxford Student Consultancy
Publisher: Oxford Inspires
Date: March 2012
This report sets out the conclusions of the Oxford Student Consultancy team tasked with carrying out a study of the economic impact of Oxford’s night time cultural economy, focusing on the performing arts. The team has been working in partnership with Oxford Inspires, an independent charitable organisation involved in promoting cultural activities within Oxfordshire. The conclusions are based on surveys of theatre audiences, interviews with theatre managers, and secondary data on Oxford’s economy and demographics.
Our conclusions are as follows. First, cultural events within Oxford are attended mostly by locals. This is supported by survey data that shows 54% of attendees at theatre productions are locals, which is by far the biggest single group, as well as by secondary data showing that 79% of ticket bookings at the Oxford Playhouse are from local postcodes.
Secondly, cultural events make a significant contribution to the local night time economy through secondary spending. 50% of people attending cultural events also went out for a drink/meal, and on average spent £20 each. This indicates that people going to cultural events contribute, on average, £10 each to Oxford’s night time economy.
Thirdly, awareness of cultural events is spread mostly by word of mouth. Our survey shows that 39% of audience members gained awareness of that particular cultural event through word of mouth. However, posters, flyers, emails and invitation emails also made a significant contribution to increasing awareness of cultural events. There is potential for social media to be used to a greater extent, especially with regards to targeting the student population.
Lastly, the biggest limitation to future growth of the night time cultural economy is attendees not having enough time to come to more events. Almost half of audience members surveyed stated that they did not have enough time to come to the theatre more often. Another significant limitation is lack of money, however, this is partly due to the current economic climate, which has made theatre goers cut down on the number of times they go the theatre.
Based on these conclusions, we recommend that the relationship between primary and secondary spending needs to be expanded, and that the significant student population of Oxford should be targeted to a greater extent.