In this series, we take a look at key 2021 Census headlines in different areas. This time… Gloucester, which was recently identified as one of Arts Council England’s Priority Places.

Gloucester is our home away from home. We’ve worked with many clients there, including Gloucester City Council, Gloucester Culture Trust, Gloucester History Festival, and Discover Decrypt.

We love Gloucester’s mix of history and alternative culture. Its cultural scene is on the up – from 2023 Gloucester organisations will receive £900k of Arts Council England NPO funding, compared to just £87k in 2022. Gloucester Culture Trust, Gloucester Guildhall, and Gloucestershire Libraries all become NPOs this year for the first time – something our work across the various organisations contributed to.

So as Gloucester’s arts scene gears up for growth in the next three years, what does the latest Census data tell arts marketers about the local population?

Gloucester is growing. Its population grew by 8.9% between 2011 and 2021, more than the national average of 6.3%. That’s comparable growth with other popular South West cities such as Bristol (10.3%) and Exeter (11.1%), and much faster than local rivals Cheltenham (2.7%).

132,500 people now live in Gloucester. There are now 10,800 more people in Gloucester compared to ten years ago. That’s good news for arts marketers because it means the size of your potential audience has grown. Not only that, but nearby areas such as Tewkesbury (15.8%) also saw rapid growth.

The Census estimates that 28.8% of Gloucester households live with dependent children.

In Gloucester there are:

  • 7,420 under 5s
  • 8,348 children aged 5 to 9
  • 9,673 children aged 10 to 14

While the number of under 15s has grown by 6.1%, the number of under 5s has actually decreased by 9%. So if you’ve been seeing a tailing off of very young audiences, this may be why.

If you are looking to focus on areas with higher percentages of children, these are:

  • Quedgeley South (24.3% of the local population is aged 14 years or under)
  • Barton (22%)
  • Tredworth (21.9%)

In contrast, the areas of the city with the fewest children are:

  • Central Gloucester and Hemstead (13.1%)
  • Kingsholm & Wotton (13.7%)
  • Hucclecote (14.3%)

Nationally, the population of over 65s has grown rapidly by 20.1% since 2011. In Gloucester, the over 65 population has actually been growing even faster, by 22.3%.

There are now 22,128 over 65s in Gloucester, approximately 4,000 more than a decade ago. Nevertheless, over 65s account for a smaller proportion of Gloucester’s population than most neighbouring areas, for example, Stroud.

The areas of Gloucester with the highest percentage of over 65s are:

  • Hucclecote (30%)
  • Lower Tuffley (28.2%)
  • Tuffley (23.2%)

If you are working with isolated older people, it is worth noting that 11.6% of households in Gloucester are over 65s living alone. This is higher in Hucclecote (18.9%) and Lower Tuffley (17.9%).

Gloucester is seeing a rise in people renting privately (up from 17.4% to 21.3%) and a corresponding drop in home ownership (down from 67.2% to 63.9%).

It’s also really useful to know that 9.9% of Gloucester’s population lived somewhere else in the UK a year before the Census. That means if you’re doing direct mail, it’s probably time to update that mailing list because as many as 1 in 10 addresses might no longer be correct.

6.7% of people over 16 in Gloucester are full-time students – this includes both Further Education and Higher Education students. There is a higher proportion in Central Gloucester & Hempsted (12.4%).

This figure is higher than most surrounding areas but much lower than nearby cities such as Bristol (13.4%) and Cardiff (16.2%).

14.4% of Gloucester’s population (19,080) was born outside the UK – compared to 16.8% of the national population. However, Gloucester is more diverse than the South West region as a whole in terms of place of birth and language spoken.


The most common non-UK birthplaces were Poland (2.2%/ 2,915 people) and India (1.6%/ 2,210 people).

Meanwhile, 92% of people in Gloucester speak English as their main language. The next most spoken language is Polish (2%).

15.1% of Gloucester’s population identifies as being of a global majority/ BAME ethnicity.

Using the Census’ ethnicity categories, these people identify as:

  • Asian, Asian British, or Asian Welsh – 6.5%
  • Black, Black British, Black Welsh, Caribbean or African – 3.6%
  • Mixed or multiple ethnic groups – 3.8%
  • Other ethnic groups – 1.2%

If you do ethnic group monitoring as part of your audience surveys, these are the local benchmarks you should be measuring against to see if your audience is representative of Gloucester’s population.

Gloucester’s Asian population is particularly focused in Barton, where 33.9% of the population is Asian, Asian British, or Asian Welsh.

There are limitations and sensitivities in Census ethnicity data – this is something acknowledged and engaged with by Census authorities

Gloucester has slightly lower levels of religious identity than the rest of England and Wales.

In Gloucester, 39.7% said they had no religion, compared to 37.2% for England and Wales.

The largest religious identities were:

  • Christian 47.7%
  • Muslim 4.7%
  • Hindu 1%

There are an estimated 6,228 Muslims in Gloucester – meaning respecting and planning around Muslim religious events and festivals would be valuable for arts and heritage organisations in the city, as well as the Christian calendar.

One useful piece of data for arts marketers is that 20.2% of households do not have access to a car, slightly lower than the national average (22%). However, this figure varies across the City. In Central Gloucester & Hempsted the figure is 36.8% and in Barton it is 35.8%.

Gloucester also has one of the higher rates of household deprivation in the South West. 51.1% of Gloucester households are deprived on at least of the four dimensions – education, employment, health, and housing. Higher levels of deprivation are concentrated roughly in the geographic centre and south of the city, particularly in Barton, Tredworth, Tuffley, Matson, and Podsmead.

These areas are likely to be heavily affected by poverty and the cost of living crisis. Strategies for engaging with audiences in these areas should therefore not depend on high ticket prices or other costs of involvement.