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Evaluation of culture and tourism in European Regional Development Funds (ERDF)

Understanding the impact of 14 billion euros of investment, to help shape future funding priorities.

Jonathan Todd

Chief Economist

Jonathan is an economist with over a decade’s experience in impact assessment and evaluation, and high-level policy experience, particularly within the cultural and creative sectors.

Jonathan Todd - Chief Economist | BOP Consulting

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European Commission


Projects Sectors

Culture and tourism have emerged as important recipients of ERDF funding

In the 2007-2013 programming period 80% of ERDF Operational Programmes provided support for investment in culture and tourism. A minimum of EUR 14.4 billion was allocated to culture and tourism if account is taken only of direct funding (i.e. leaving aside other support going to SMEs, transport and urban regeneration, for example, which could also have benefited culture and tourism). 

Given the pre-existing scattered and rather scant evidence available on the effectiveness of ERDF investments in culture and tourism, BOP Consulting was comissioned as part of a bigger conglomerate, to provide factual and concrete evidence on the logic for ERDF support of these sectors in the 2007-2013 period, the nature and distribution of the interventions, together with their main achievements and expected effects on territorial development. The overall aim of the evaluation was to understand the rationales for investment, rather than uncover causal impact.

The evaluation is based on a range of research tools, including a review of the literature, an analysis of available statistical and administrative data, a cluster analysis and an on-line survey of 95 regional Managing Authorities, 6 in-depth regional case studies and 12 mini-case studies of specific projects. 

Key Policy implications

The findings of the evaluation led to a number of key policy implications for future ERDF investments in culture and tourism, including

  • The first is that there is scope for the ERDF to more effectively address culture and tourism in order to support regional development. This requires, however, that regional and national authorities put greater emphasis during the programming phase on the contribution of culture and tourism to regional development, and hence on the definition of more focused ERDF investment strategies in these sectors.

  • Greater entrepreneurship and innovation is needed in both sectors, but particularly in culture. As for the perceived administrative burden of ERDF funding, while there may be scope for simplification, private sector and third sector operators could also be helped to improve their capacity to comply with the necessary regulations.

  • Monitoring and evaluation systems need to be improved through the definition and dissemination of clearer guidance and methodological support for (a) classification criteria for categories of intervention, (b) common indicators, and (c) defining relevant programme-specific indicators.


Project Report

Building on our contribution to the second edition of the report in 2018, BOP has led as the Data and Research partner on this report to help find out how policies can protect people working in the creative and cultural sectors.

UNESCO's Re|Shaping Policies for Creativity Report – Addressing culture as a global public good


Our strategy will guide the creation of a new digital service aiming at supporting and developing the creative scene in Downtown Kingston.

Leveraging the creative potential of Downtown Kingston through technology

Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

Our research into the UK's high streets found that 69% of people think culture on their high street makes their area a better place to live.

Culture: The cornerstone of the UK’s high streets

Arts Council England

BOP’s updated Handbook for the Inter-American Development Bank sets out strategies for sustainability and urban resilience

Creative and Cultural Industries and Urban Revitalisation in the post-COVID era

Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

We investigated the potential impact of AI on the cultural and creative industries.

Opportunities and Challenges of AI for the Cultural and Creative Industries

European Commission

Published today: ‘Design for Good: 90 Years of the RSA Student Design Awards’, a new publication from the RSA, co-authored by BOP

A History of Bright Ideas: 90 Years of the RSA Student Design Awards

The Royal Society for Arts (RSA)

New skills research in the Gulf Co-operation Council States

An evidence-base for the growing Gulf festivals sector

British Council

Our research into the museum workforce is launched

Conscientiousness, optimism, and curiosity

Museums Galleries Scotland

BOP’s report for Nanjing City Government demonstrates the importance of cross-cutting policies with a compelling cultural offer at the core

Creating Healthy Night-time Economies in World Cities

Nanjing Creative Center

Findings from our work at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Creativity in health settings


How is China influencing the future of Cultural Tourism?

Cultural Infrastructure for the 21st Century

Chengdu Media Group

Based on our impact analysis we estimate $750 billion in lost GVA for the CCI as a result of the pandemic so far.

Economic impact of COVID-19 on the Cultural and Creative Industries


Our analysis of the strengths & challenges of music in the Midlands is published

Hitting the right notes in the Midlands

Arts Council England

New handbook published for city leaders

How can cities make space for culture?

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

Our report sheds new light on how building the capacity of the heritage sector can assist working internationally

International working builds stronger heritage sector at home

National Lottery Heritage Fund

Our new report with Nesta published

Opportunities for China-UK Cooperation through Equity Crowdfunding


Our new research report for the National Trust

Protect urban heritage to prevent growth in inequality

National Trust

Our latest research for the Reading Agency shows we should read year-round

Reading is for life, not just for August

The Reading Agency

Our review of the Scottish Animation Sector, commissioned by Creative Scotland, has just been published

Review of the Scottish Animation Sector

Creative Scotland

UK-wide study of visitor experience practice provides new benchmarks for cultural and visitor attractions

Sharing Operations and Visitor Experience insight


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Evaluation and Impact Assessment

Jonathan Todd - Chief Economist | BOP Consulting

Jonathan Todd

Chief Economist