‘Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village has an impact far beyond its doors’: New research reveals the £7.7m economic impact of Guildford’s thriving arts institution
On Monday 16 May 2016, Watts Gallery – Artists' Village hosted the University of Surrey and The Hazelhurst Trust to launch the results of the Economic Impact Study. Speakers included Sir David Verey, Professor Graham Miller and Professor Gang Li of the University of Surrey, Perdita Hunt, Director of Watts Gallery Trust, and Dr Helen Bowcock of The Hazelhurst Trust.
Professor Li of the University of Surrey said, 'In times of economic austerity, it is often arts and cultural institutions that suffer from reduced investment. However, what is clear from our study is that investment in the arts has value beyond the aesthetic, directly contributing to local and national wealth. We shouldn't undervalue the work that local attractions play in increasing regional prosperity. Whether bringing in visitors who spend money in the surrounding area, directly creating jobs and supporting local suppliers, Watts Gallery – Artists' Village has an impact far beyond its doors.'
Research from this study has revealed that the economic impact of Watts Gallery – Artists' Village significantly boosts the local economy in and around Guildford. This impact extends to the wider economy as well, with the Artists' Village contributing over £7.76 million in terms of additional gross turnover for the UK and supporting 124 additional jobs.
The study was conducted over a 10-month period from March to December 2015, with data for the study coming from a post-visit survey, the Artists' Village's management data and desk research for UK economic data. Through looking at visitor spending, the Gallery's operating expenditure and its knock-on effect on the wider economy, it was revealed that the Artists' Village directly contributed £2.62 million worth of additional gross turnover to other local businesses.
Other findings revealed that the Artists' Village has increased visitor numbers by 130% since the major renovation in 2011, with visitors coming from as far as Australia, Poland and the USA. Coming to the Artists' Village was also the primary reason for 92.5% of visits, with 37.9% of visitors saying they would have stayed home or gone to work had they not visited the Gallery.
This new research was commissioned by Watts Gallery – Artists' Village in order to provide a case study for Guildford Borough Council and other local authorities to increase investment in tourism and to articulate the importance of tourism in the area. The study was conducted by the University of Surrey's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and was generously funded by The Hazelhurst Trust.
Perdita Hunt, Director of Watts Gallery Trust, said, 'The economic impact of Watts Gallery – Artists' Village could not have happened without the generosity of so many private donors, Trusts and Foundations. Philanthropy has been at the heart of this revival. I would particularly like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Hazelhurst Trust and others whose generosity made this possible.'
Dr Helen Bowcock, Trustee of The Hazelhurst Trust, said, 'As a supporter of Watts Gallery – Artists' Village, its impact has always seemed significant, but it is wonderful to have this clear evidence from such an authoritative source. Donors to the Artists' Village can be assured that their funds are enabling considerable economic value in our local region, as well as providing social and artistic benefit.'
The full report can be read below.