UK culture organisations reap huge benefits from working internationally

Exporting UK culture can provide a valuable source of income for arts and creative organisations, and improve "their financial resilience and sustainability" according to an Arts Council-commissioned report on the international activity of National Portfolio Organisations.

Over half of the organisations taking part had participated in international activity in 2014 and 2015, with 243 of NPOs generating £34 million. Areas by percentage of respondents were London (38%), North (30%), Midlands (12%), South West (11%) and East/South East (10%). 

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Most active artforms internationally were dance (76% of 38 NPOs), literature (75% of 28 NPOs) and visual arts (72% of 78 NPOs) though over 50% of combined arts, theatre and music organisations included in research were working internationally.
  • Average earned income by artform was led by music at £222,900, followed by dance (£145,200), theatre (£84,600), combined arts (£48,000), visual arts (£23,900) and literature (£16,100).
  • The most common international activity was taking UK artists abroad but the report also included overseas residencies and touring, international co-productions and hosting foreign artists in the UK. T
  • Top 10 countries for NPO international activity were (in order of percentage of NPOs who worked there): USA, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Canada and Sweden.
  • Top emerging markets based on proportion of NPOs working with the countries for the first time include Qatar, Hong Kong, Iran, Malaysia, Serbia, South Africa, China, Colombia, Indonesia and Belgium.
  • The main motivations for engaging in international activity were not, however, financial. Instead showcasing work, gaining experience and learning from differenct cultures and putting work in a global context were more important drivers for NPOs. However, generating revenue from international activity was proven to be necessary to keep an organisation touring outside of the UK.
  • 95% of all NPOs said improved reputation was a benefit from working internationally, while artistic and professional development and being part of the international arts landscape were also seen as benefits by many. Adding to an organisation's reputation means more successful international activity and greater financial rewards. 

Read the entire report here or download it from this article.

Read more on and apply for Arts Council's National Portfolio funding here.

The report was published by Arts Council and TBR.


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