British Art Market Is Worth £1.5 Billion Annually

Economic Report: British Art Market Is Worth £1.5 Billion

The British art market was worth £1.5 billion in 2023, according to the Market Federation’s new economic report. A recent press release from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport provides a transcript of the speech of Lord Parkinson made at the launch of the report. 

The speech details the healthy state of Britain’s visual arts scene, referencing the recent Frieze Week in London as one of the highlights of the year. The event, which took place in October, celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and brought together work from leading galleries from 46 countries around the world.

The annual event is now firmly established as a globally recognised occasion where cutting edge works, artists, and ideas come together. This year, there was a diverse range of group, solo, and themed shows. Highlights include works by leading British artists Sarah Lucas and John Currin, and a solo exhibition by the Margate-based artist Sophie Von Hellerman. 

Speaking about the valuable contribution the arts scene makes to the UK, Lord Parkinson said: “There’s the economic impact, of course — providing direct employment to tens of thousands of highly-skilled people, and supporting almost as many jobs again in the ancillary businesses which provide the specialist skills it draws on.”

He added: “There’s the fiscal contribution of some £1.5 billion, and the great benefit to the Exchequer of being a global hub for the international trade — with billions of pounds’ worth of works of art being imported and exported across our borders each year.”

“There’s the soft power of being the marketplace for some of the world’s most important artworks, antiques, and antiquities – and sharing the UK’s extraordinary creativity with ever larger audiences around the world.”

London is renowned for the number of artists and galleries that it nurtures and sustains, and this has a ripple effect out to many other towns and cities in the UK, many of which have vibrant cultural scenes and a wealth of talented artists and craftspeople. 

Lord Parkinson continued: “The art market sustains and inspires so many wonderful exhibitions, art fairs, and other vibrant events which create additional spending and employment and attract tourists, both around the country and around the world.”

“Visitors to London during Frieze Week were spoiled for choice this year — with world-class exhibitions including Sarah Lucas at Tate Britain, Marina Abramović at the Royal Academy, Claudette Johnson at the Courtauld, and Frans Hals at the National Gallery — and that’s only mentioning a handful in Zone One.” 

The UK art market is highly globally competitive, being the second largest in the world after the United States, and larger than the rest of Europe combined. 


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