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  • Rhys Maher

Measuring impact in the creative sector: economic, social and cultural contributions in Wales

Infographic showing social and economic impacts of S2C - these are also included in the bullet points at the bottom of this blog
S4C report: Social & Economic Impacts 2022/23

Since its inception in 1982, S4C has played a key role in supporting, promoting and nurturing the creative sector in Wales. We were commissioned to provide a comprehensive impact assessment of S4C activities over the financial year 2022/23. The breadth and scope of S4C’s contribution meant our research had to go beyond just capturing the broadcaster’s economic contributions. Our work also assessed the wider fiscal impacts, as well as social and environmental contributions S4C have made.

The release of S4C’s 2022-2027 Strategy coincided with the broadcaster’s transition to a license-fee funded model which was fixed for the first two years up until April 2024. The sector was facing unprecedented content production costs, driven by the impact of the pandemic, the highest inflation rates seen in S4C’s lifetime, as well as an increasingly competitive media landscape from streaming platforms. Given these circumstances, S4C were keen to demonstrate their ability to create relevant, value for money, multi-media content while also making a positive, Wales-wide impact on local communities, economies, and the Welsh language.

Infographic economic impacts assessment framework used- this can found in the linked report
Economic Impact Assessment Framework for S4C

To ensure we were able to robustly and comprehensively capture S4C’s economic and social impacts, we designed a holistic economic impact assessment framework to complement our research approach which included the following.

Quantitative analysis of financial and survey data

S4C externally commissions much of its content. It was therefore essential for us to look at how their operations impacted their suppliers, with a particular focus on the media sector. Using detailed spend data shared by S4C, we geographically mapped the organisation’s economic impact across Wales’s local communities as well as how their spend circulated around the wider economy, stimulating business growth and high-quality jobs.

Heat maps showing S4C's Jobs Supported and GVA in Wales- this can found in the linked report
Heat maps of Wales showing S4C's direct supplier impact on Jobs Supported and GVA

In-depth interviews with stakeholders and production companies 

We spoke with several organisations ranging from third sector groups to other broadcasters and content producers. This provided valuable insights into the multiple roles S4C played in anchoring the creative sector in Wales. This included developing skills and talent and advocating for Wales and the Welsh language on the global stage. S4C also acted as an incubator for the creative industry, with many businesses noting that their work with the broadcaster gave them the credibility to secure commissions from other broadcasters. The interviews also offered an insight into S4C’s wider-strategic contributions, which include actively promoting Welsh language learning and transfer as part of the wider Cymraeg 2050 strategy. In addition, ensuring a social, economic, and environmental focus across their commissioning decisions and internal policies ensures they align with legislation like the UK Social Value Act and Wales’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

Case Studies 

We developed twenty case studies to showcase the tangibility of S4C’s positive impact on and for people across Wales. This included helping to establish new studio space and jobs in Anglesey, creating a platform for new and established Welsh cultural events and taking a leading role in improving the sustainability of the Wales’s media sector.

How the creative sector measured up.

Our research found that S4C demonstrates good value for money and positively impacts the lives of people across the entirety of Wales both economically and culturally. Furthermore, it has highlighted that S4C is in a strong position to build on these achievements and continue to serve as an anchor for Welsh culture and the cultural sector. Some of our key findings from our research into S4C’s activities in the 2022-23 financial year show that:

  • S4C's economic contribution has resulted in 1,900 jobs and generated £136m in economic output for the Welsh economy.

  • For every £1 of licence fee funding S4C received, the broadcaster generated £1.53 of economic output in Wales, rising to £1.77 for the United Kingdom.

  • For every £1 pound of licence fee funding S4C receives, £1.02 is generated in tax for the Treasury.

  • S4C worked with over 977 suppliers in 47 different sectors in Wales and beyond.

  • During 2022-23 S4C worked with 70 production companies and shared almost 80% of its budget to commission content. Over 98% of that content was produced in Wales.

  • Netflix acquired its first Welsh-language only drama, the S4C-commissioned crime drama Dal y Mellt (named ‘Rough Cut’ on the platform) expanding the international audience for Welsh-made and Welsh language content.

  • When surveyed, S4C’s direct suppliers noted that speaking Welsh was an essential skill for 75% of their employees.

  • S4C plays an increasing role in education and development. It has set a professional training agenda in the media sector, supported apprenticeships to enter the media sector and produced educational content for children and young people, including uploading over 80 hours of content to the Welsh Government’s learning platform: Hwb.

This project presented Wavehill with an opportunity to demonstrate our unique research offer within the creative sector. It also allowed us to demonstrate the tangible and far-reaching impacts of an institution which is close to the hearts of its viewers. We are looking forward to seeing how S4C continues to make a positive impact across Wales in the coming years as they continue to implement their new strategy.

If you would like any more information about Wavehill research work, including socio-economic impact assessments in the creative sector, please contact Endaf Griffiths, Michael Pang or Rhys Maher.


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