Arts make more than farms or mines

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POP STARS, actors and film directors generate pounds 60bn for the British economy every year - more than either agriculture or mining - according to Government research published this week.

The full financial picture of the creative industries will be revealed on Friday when Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, unveils the first comprehensive audit of the arts.

Results show that theatre, film, television and music have a combined turnover of pounds 60bn each year, and export about pounds 8bn of goods and services abroad - 16 per cent of the entire world market. The most lucrative sectors are publishing, design, music and computer software manufacture. Radio and TV also generate high turnovers.

The study, by the Government's Creative Industries Task Force, which includes the fashion designer Paul Smith, finds that the arts are one of the most valuable contributors to Treasury coffers; the cash they generate is now far greater than that from other British industries. While the arts contribute pounds 25bn to gross domestic product, agriculture produces pounds 11.8bn a year, and mining pounds 18.1bn, according to the Office for National Statistics. The arts are now almost as lucrative as the construction industry which contributes pounds 33.7bn to GDP every year.

Mr Smith plans to use the research to increase pressure on Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, to give more generous tax breaks to film makers and theatre producers. He will argue that the creative industries are a good investment for the Government and can generate thousands of jobs.

The audit, to be launched at the Design Museum, London, later this week, is the first proper assessment of the financial status of the arts. Previously, the annual turnover had been estimated at about pounds 50bn, but there has been little evidence to substantiate the figure.

The Creative Industries Task Force, set up by the Culture Secretary last July, has examined individually the finance of each sector and totalled the amounts. It does not intend to draw up proposals to better co- ordinate the activities of each area to generate more wealth.