Access talked to Michael Smith, managing director, Brixton Business Improvement District about the benefits of events for business – and for young workers, as we release our White Paper, produced with We Are The Fair and the NTIA…

Smith said: “Great events provide a valuable increase in local footfall and local business. They also can establish places as branded destinations in the popular mind.

“Brixton is already a dynamic environment for business and gains an undoubted boost from the events it holds. We want more. Indeed, over the longer term, events can give our local young people an opportunity to work in what is clearly a vibrant sector, and even gain apprenticeships in that sector.”

Our White Paper also tracks which sectors are gaining from this expenditure… 


One of the striking things about events is how hard it is to get good data about them. That applies especially to informal events. The government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), its Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and VisitBritain/ VisitEngland, the tourism authority funded by the DCMS, would all benefit by investing in better coverage of events as an economic category – and well before 2030, too.

Nevertheless, the broad evidence is clear: events already help create a great deal of wealth, jobs and social dynamism.

There’s no need to continue with hype about the experience economy, which in fact dates back to 1997. The story with events is more interesting than that. It begins, as Chart 2 shows, overleaf, with the fact that UK consumer spending on cultural, recreational and sporting services has grown – not least, in the years since the Crash of 2008.


Nowadays, a portion of the cultural, recreational and sporting services that UK consumers spend money on is of course provided by Big Tech firms headquartered in the US: by Netflix, for example. Still, a surprisingly large number of UK enterprises directly provide cultural, recreational and sporting services.

Not all the enterprises in Chart 3 (overleaf) were, in 2017, directly in events; but we can be sure that very many of them were. The chart shows that the UK has nearly 9,600 enterprises in performing arts, more than 21,500 in sport, and several thousand more in other events-based leisure. By contrast, the UK’s business events sector is relatively concentrated: it boasts just 3,885 enterprises.

The 2017 total of about 31,000 enterprises strictly in performing arts and sport compares with a 2018 total of 171,000 VAT- and/or PAYE- based enterprises in what the ONS classifies as ‘arts, entertainment, recreation and other services’. So: events enterprises in performing arts and sport make up a respectable 18 per cent of those in the wider field of culture and recreation, including enterprises that offer museums, historical sites, gyms, betting shops and the like.

The Political Economy of Informal Events, 2030 was commissioned and published by Mash Media. Foreword by: Julian Agostini, (MD, Mash Media), Alan D Miller, (chairman, The Night Time Industries Association) Nick Morgan (CEO, We Are The Fair). It was written and edited by James Woudhuysen, visiting professor, forecasting & innovation, London South Bank University. (Advisory team: Tom Hall and Paul Colston).

The print version of report is available for £7.99, but it can be viewed for free online now.