£304m economic impact for Scotland
V&A Dundee, Scotland’s design museum, has generated £304 million for the Scottish economy to date according to a new independent impact report published today (Monday 11 September) to mark the museum’s fifth birthday.
The research, by BOP Consulting and tialt, found that V&A Dundee generated a gross value added (GVA) impact of £234 million in the five years since opening, in addition to a £70 million GVA impact from the construction of the museum, alongside many wider cultural and social benefits for Dundee and Scotland.
Scotland’s design museum was created to inspire and empower people through design, bringing together design from Scotland and all over the world through its spectacular architecture, exhibitions, free displays, the permanent Scottish Design Galleries, and a programme of learning, community engagement, talks and events to spark curiosity in people of all ages.
Key findings from the report include:
• 1.7 million visits to the museum since opening, despite the impact of Covid, including 500,000 people who came to Dundee for the first time as part of trips to V&A Dundee
• Over 270,000 engagements with the community and learning programme since opening, including in-person events, digital workshops during lockdown, outreach in the city, and free design activities for children and families
• Almost 10,000 pupils, teachers and educators have engaged with the museum since opening, through a partnership with Dundee City Council
• Over 2,000 learning and community events and projects have taken place
• V&A Dundee contributed 1,685 jobs to Scotland, including 450 in Dundee, according to data from April to September this year
• Total GVA economic impact of £304 million for Scotland, including £109 million for Dundee
• Dundee has continued to develop as a destination, with the city and its many visitor attractions welcoming 1.25 million visitors in 2022, up from 880,000 in 2017
V&A Dundee opened on 15 September 2018 and the impact report has been released ahead of the museum’s fifth birthday later this week. The birthday will be celebrated on Saturday 16 September with free music performances including Be Charlotte and Andrew Wasylyk, free access to the blockbuster Tartan exhibition, street food on the plaza, family activities, free museum tours, and the opening of a new permanent display on the museum’s architecture, Stories from the Building.
In its first five years, V&A Dundee has worked with a range of charities and community organisations, including Alzheimer Scotland, Dundee Carers Centre, Dundee International Women’s Centre, Dundee Women’s Aid, Education Scotland and NHS Tayside, creating partnerships and events to make the museum accessible to everyone and to use design to improve lives. It has also worked with multiple designers and cultural organisations across Dundee, Scotland and around the world.
Fatima Ramzan, formerly of Dundee International Women's Centre, said: “V&A Dundee has been an invaluable space for my community work. It provides a welcoming, comfortable and accessible environment for people from all backgrounds to come together and learn from each other. The staff have been very supportive in helping me organise events and workshops for community groups. Overall, V&A Dundee has helped break down barriers and build connections within the community.”
Design education and the participation of young people is at the heart of V&A Dundee. Before opening in 2018, the museum partnered with Dundee City Council on the Teacher Secondment Programme, enabling a teacher to be based full-time in the museum to work closely with the city’s schools, and also jointly created a Young People’s Collective for 14- to 24-year-olds to influence the museum’s development and learn about creative careers.
Ailsa Purdie, one of the founding members of V&A Dundee’s Young People’s Collective, said: “V&A Dundee is much more than objects in a gallery. It is free family events, live music, lectures, debates, and learning to sequin your old denim jacket. It is a place to hang out, catch up and learn. It’s young people meeting up to change the world. And this is all design.
“Even before we had a building V&A Dundee had already given me so much, and before there was even a single object in the gallery we were already designing. This change in perception of what ‘design’ is one of the most important things I learnt during my time at the Young People’s Collective.”
Since opening, the museum has worked with all primary and secondary schools in Dundee and a growing number nationally, with over 100 Scottish schools engaging with V&A Dundee so far in 2023 alone. Both projects continue to this day, shaping how the museum continues to grow and change.
The fifth birthday celebrations run from 10am to 10pm on Saturday 16 September. For more information, please visit https://www.vam.ac.uk/dundee/whatson/season/we-are-5
Shona Robison, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Scottish Government, said: “In the last five years V&A Dundee has embedded itself as both a vital cultural institution of Scotland and as a key driver of Dundee’s economy.
“Despite the enormous challenge of a global pandemic V&A Dundee has emerged as a site which draws unprecedented numbers of visitors to the city and it has created high-quality jobs directly, as well as to contractors and to those working in the wider creative economy.
“Since 2018 V&A Dundee has transformed the waterfront area into an iconic destination to showcase world-class design. It has also reached out beyond its walls to embed itself in the civic life of Scotland. This is just the beginning of V&A Dundee’s contribution to Scotland.”
Leonie Bell, Director of V&A Dundee, said: “Since opening, V&A Dundee has emerged as an important new voice for design and a gathering place for visitors from near and far, contributing to Dundee and Scotland's creative, cultural and economic growth, despite the major challenges of the Covid pandemic.
“We’ve engaged over 1.7 million people through exhibitions, events, learning and community activities, and with the architecture and engineering of our spectacular home, designed by Kengo Kuma. What matters now is how we grow from this point as part of Dundee and Scotland’s creative community, continuing to learn, listen and improve. We are already making more use of the museum’s architecture and plaza, creating a museum for everyone that is full of activity and energy, a place to find joy, explore, reflect, play and learn.
“V&A Dundee is a special place, a unique organisation with a local, national and international outlook rooted in and branching out from Dundee, the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design. As we look to the next five years, we will remain ambitious, deepen our social impact in Dundee, reach out further across Scotland, and do more to champion design from Scotland and around the world.”
Tim Allan, Chair of V&A Dundee’s Board, said: “V&A Dundee opened in September 2018 and in five years it has become impossible to imagine the city or the country without the museum. This report confirms that V&A Dundee is serving as an engine for economic development, is an iconic symbol of ambition, and is a demonstration that culture and creativity are worth investing in for the long term.
“This report shows V&A Dundee is a critical organisation, driving investment in the north-east of Scotland, and enhancing perceptions of Dundee as an economic and cultural centre. Our next five years will be critical as well, as we go further again in our drive to work in partnership to transform the economic, social and cultural ambition for Dundee and Scotland.”
Dundee City Council leader Councillor John Alexander said: "V&A Dundee has made a considerable impact since its launch five years ago for the city and Scotland. It is contributing to delivery of the council's priorities for the city and has created strong connections with local communities.
“V&A Dundee has also become a recognisable symbol of the city's ambitions and has attracted visitors as well as international attention. All of this has been achieved in the face of the challenges of the pandemic. I look forward to V&A Dundee passing many more milestones in the future.”
Stories from the Building will be a permanent new display on the ground floor introducing visitors to the architecture, design, engineering, and construction stories behind the creation of V&A Dundee. It opens on Saturday 16 September.
As well as concept sketches, material samples and artefacts from the construction phase, the exhibition includes the original competition model for the building. Interviews with the architects, project managers and engineers are accompanied by a new animation showing the development of the museum’s design and the complexity of its construction.