Culture data report

Plymouth Culture commissioned The Audience Agency to collect, analyse and present data relating to the arts and culture sector in Plymouth, providing a robust and shared narrative about the value and reach of the sector and up-to-date information to support their strategic plans.

This includes information on the economic and social impact of cultural provision, audience reach, and the benchmarking of Plymouth against other relevant UK cities.

Overall, the aim of this project is:

To make sure agreed priorities and decisions around investments are backed up by hard evidence, brought together in one place for the sector and stakeholders to use as a reference point and a useful resource for all partners as well as directly influencing the shape of the culture strategy.

This report brings together population analysis (including Census, Audience Finder, and Target Group Index survey data), cultural provision and business data (from the Inter- Departmental Business Register as well as desk research and an organisation survey), and the results of interviews with cultural service providers in Plymouth to address the social impacts of the sector.


  • Compared to England as a whole, the population of Plymouth skews slightly younger, with 33% being aged under 25 compared with 31% nationally.
  • 18-29 year-olds are particularly over-represented, making up 20% of Plymouth residents and 16% of England’s population.
  • 13% of Plymouth residents are full-time students, compared with 9% across England as a whole.
  • Plymouth residents are more likely than the England average to have ‘Bad’ or ‘Very bad’ health (7% vs 5% of the England population), and more likely to have a limiting long-term health problem or disability (20% of residents vs. 18% across England as a whole).
  • Of Plymouth residents not in employment or seeking work, 16% are long-term sick or disabled. This compares with 13% across England.
  • They are also slightly more likely than the national average to provide unpaid care – 11% doing so vs 10% across England.
  • 51% of households fall into the C2/D/E social grade, compared with 46% of all England households. 29% work in routine or semi-routine occupations, compared with 25% of all 16-74 year olds in England.
  • Compared with England as a whole, a larger proportion of Plymouth residents work in skilled trades (13% vs 11% England), caring, leisure and other service occupations (11% vs. 9%) and sales and customer service occupations (11% vs. 8%).
  • 21% of residents hold degree-level qualifications, compared with 27% of the England population.

The following charts describe the demographic profile of:

  • Plymouth-resident audiences at Plymouth arts and cultural organisations (based on Audience Finder survey data since 2016).
  • The adult (15+) population of Plymouth.
  • The adult (15+) population of England.

Data is also available for all audiences at Plymouth arts and cultural organisations regardless of where they live, and Plymouth residents at all Audience Finder venues anywhere in the UK. These are both available in the appendices and are based on Audience Finder survey data since 2016.


The gender balance amongst Plymouth residents is the same as across England as a whole. Amongst those engaging with culture at Plymouth orgs, females are over-represented.


Overall, Plymouth skews slightly younger the England as a whole, with a larger proportion of 16-24s and a smaller proportion of those aged 25-64. This is amplified in the age profile of culturally active Plymouth residents, which has a significant over-representation of 16- 24 year olds.


Plymouth is less ethnically diverse than England as a whole, but the profile of those engaging with culture in Plymouth is more diverse than we would see if all ethnic groups took part in proportion to their size in the population. All ethnic groups other than White British are over-represented amongst Plymouth-resident cultural attenders, in particular those who identify as Asian or Asian British.


Plymouth has slightly higher levels of disability amongst the population than found across England as a whole. This is not the case amongst cultural attenders, where we see an under-representation of those whose daily activities are limited by a long-term illness or disability.

Engagement with arts and culture


  • Plymouth has an over-representation of less-engaged Audience Spectrum segments. 21% of adults fall into one of the ‘Highly engaged’ Audience Spectrum segments, 42% a Medium Engagement segment, 37% a Lower Engagement segment. This compares with 25%, 41% and 33% of adults in England as a whole.
  • According to the TGI survey, adults in Plymouth are less likely than those elsewhere in England to attend almost all areas of arts and culture – most notably Opera, Museums, Jazz, Classical music, Ballet, and Theatre.

The following figures are based on surveys undertaken by five Plymouth arts organisations.

  • Plymouth audiences are predominantly female (63% compared to 37% male visitors).
  • Plymouth audiences are younger than the Plymouth and English population, 33% being aged 16 to 24 compared to 12% of the Plymouth population being in this age range.
  • Plymouth audiences are more diverse than the Plymouth population. There are more people with an Asian/Asian British (9%), Mixed (5%) or Black/Black British (3%) background amongst the audience than in the Plymouth population (each 2% or less).
  • Compared with all Plymouth residents, a smaller proportion of the arts/culture audience have a limiting disability (12% vs. 20%).

The profile overall broadly reflects the Plymouth population, but there are some notable differences:

  • The highly engaged Experience Seekers are over-represented (27% of Plymouth residents at Plymouth organisations vs. 16% in the population).
  • The medium engaged Trips & Treats group slightly under-represented (18% vs. 21% of all Plymouth residents).
  • The less engaged Facebook Families segment is more under-represented (7% of the Plymouth-resident audience vs. 14% of the population).
  • The three largest Audience Spectrum segments are Experience Seekers, Trips & Treats and Dormitory Dependables (13%).

When we look at box office data rather than surveys, the profile is slightly closer to that of the Plymouth households1. The most notable differences are:

  • Commuterland Culturebuffs are over-represented (8% of the audience vs. 4% of the population).
  • Dormitory Dependables are over-represented (17% of the audience vs. 10% of the population).
  • The less engaged Facebook Families segment is under-represented (10% of the Plymouth-resident audience vs. 15% of the population).
  • The three most prominent Audience Spectrum segments amongst Plymouth audiences are Trips & Treats (22%), Dormitory Dependables (10%), and Up Our Street (14%).

Audience Spectrum

Compared to England, Plymouth has larger proportions of Experience Seekers, Trips & Treats and Up Our Street:

  • Experience Seekers: Diverse urban audiences, students and recent graduates into a variety of cultural events (Higher engagement segment)
  • Trips & Treats: Suburban households, often with children, whose cultural activities usually are part of a day out or treat (Medium engagement segment)
  • Up Our Street: Reasonably comfortably off households, occasional audiences for popular arts & entertainment, museums and heritage sites (Lower engagement segment)

As we would expect, the segments which tend to be more culturally engaged are seen in higher proportions in Plymouth organisations’ combined survey data, in particular Experience Seekers. Trips & Treats and Facebook Families are notably under-represented, with the most room for growth.

  • Facebook Families: Harder pressed suburban and semi-urban households for whom arts and culture plays a small role (Lower engagement segment)

When we look at Audience Finder ticketing data, which tends to focus on paid-for performing arts, we see a similar pattern in terms of an under-representation of the less engaged segments. However, we see the largest over-representation in the medium engaged Dormitory Dependables segment, and a slight under-representation of Experience Seekers. The most potential for growth exists amongst Facebook Families, Experience Seekers and Heydays.

  • Dormitory Dependables: Regular but not frequent cultural attenders living in city suburbs and small towns (Medium engagement segment).
  • Heydays: Older people who find it harder to access the arts and cultural activities that they may use to have enjoyed (Lower engagement).

Descriptions of each segment are given in the appendices, and detailed pen portraits are available at

Arts and cultural attendance – past 12 months

Museums and heritage attendance – visited in the past 12 months

Cinema visits – past 12 months

The cultural sector

This section looks at the size, makeup and value of the cultural sector in Plymouth. The cultural sector is defined as businesses with SOC codes under the category of “Arts, entertainment, recreation & other services”, with data derived from the Inter- Departmental Business Register.


  • According to the most recent Inter-Departmental Business Register data available, 365 business units (i.e. companies or sole traders) classed as “Arts, entertainment, recreation & other services” are based in Plymouth. This accounts for 6% of all enterprises in Plymouth.
  • In the South West as a whole, 6% of enterprises are classed as “Arts, entertainment, recreation & other services”, similar to England as a whole.
  • 10 Plymouth organisations were granted NPO status for 2018-22. This places Plymouth 26th out of all English Local Authorities in terms of NPOs per head of population.
  • Plymouth NPOs were granted £16m over 2018-22, or around £59 per resident. This places Plymouth 13th out of all English LAs in terms of NPO funding per head.

Employment and GVA

Based on modelling and statistics from Plymouth City Council:

  • 1,520 people are employed in the cultural sector in Plymouth. A further 610 jobs are supported by the cultural sector.
  • Using Gross Value Added as a model for economic output, the cultural sector accounts for £69.1m economic output per year. When indirect effects are taken into account, this increases to an economic output of £98.8m.
  • The productivity of the sector is £69,000 GVA per full time employee, which is higher than the average across all sectors in Plymouth.
  • The three largest cultural sector employers in Plymouth employ 29% of the cultural workforce. The largest five employ 39%.
  • Cultural sector jobs are concentrated in the St Peter & the Waterfront and Moor View wards, together accounting for just under half of employees.

Size of the sector

The following charts are based on ONS data, specifically UK Business: Activity, Size and Location 2019. The cultural sector in this context is defined as all business units with SOC codes beginning 90-99. Some organisations which we might consider to be part of the sector may have different SOC codes, and therefore fall into one of the other categories.

Number of VAT and/or PAYE based local units, Culture by city

Employment and GVA

Key figures

The following key figures were provided by Plymouth City Council, based on analysis of the Inter-Departmental Business Register.

  • 1,520 people are employed in the cultural sector in Plymouth.
  • A further 610 jobs are supported by the cultural sector.
  • Using Gross Value Added as a model for economic output, the cultural sector accounts for £69.1m economic output per year.
  • When indirect effect are taken into account, the Plymouth cultural sector has a yearly economic output of £98.8m.
  • The productivity of the sector is £69,000 GVA per full time employee – higher than the average across all sectors in Plymouth.

Employment by sub-sector

Plymouth has a diverse range of cultural businesses, with most sub-sectors having fewer than three organisations. Plymouth City Council were able to supply employment figures for the subsectors which had three or more organisations, the largest of these being software development, arts facilities, other IT services, and other ‘social work activities without accommodation’.

Employment in cultural sector by Ward

Around half of those employed by Plymouth cultural sector businesses are employed in St Peter & the Waterfront (26%) or Moor View (23%). Businesses in most other wards account for 1% or fewer of all cultural employees.