Grey Bloom by Michael Eden, 2010

News & Policy Briefing / Dec 2011


Printable version available here.


1) Crafts Council Briefings and Events

2) Sector News

3) Education and Training

4) Innovation

5) In Parliament

6) Publications

As we approach the end of 2011 the Crafts Council can reflect back on a period of sustained policy and research activity on behalf of the contemporary craft sector. Work has included the publication of a series of research briefings, detailed below, responses to numerous government and sector specific consultations, advocacy events and the continued championing, to policy makers and other key opinion formers, of the importance of craft education, the socio-economic contribution of craft practice and knowledge as well as the priorities and challenges facing the sector.

The Crafts Council has also been celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, starting with a launch event at the House of Commons in May and continuing with a programme of events and exhibitions this autumn; 365,000 visitors have seen our five current exhibitions, 27,000 people attended our two craft fairs, and over 7,000 children and young people have participated in our nationwide initiatives.

Below we bring you details of a new Crafts Council briefing note and our events as well as the usual policy developments relevant to the sector, including an Arts Council spending plan and an update on education and apprenticeships policy.

1) Crafts Council Briefings and Events:

Crafts Council Research
Over the past year the Crafts Council has published briefing notes examining key developments and trends in contemporary craft practice in the context of current, pressing issues and policy agendas. These include, Craft and Environmental Sustainability Craft and Well-being Craft and the Digital World and Craft and Rural Development, as well as our latest briefing Crafting Capital: New technologies, new economies which was launched at the House of Commons in November.

Crafting Capital: New economies, new technologies
The Crafting Capital briefing demonstrates how craft knowledge, skills and thinking can contribute to innovation in science, technology and industry sectors, highlighting the potential of cross-disciplinary work through a number of case studies. It follows on from the Craft Council’s major research report Making Value which was published in 2010 and found that craft makers work in a far greater range of contexts than previously realised or recorded, including other creative industry sectors and beyond, to manufacturing and architecture for example.

The Crafting Capital launch event in the House of Commons was organised with the Associate Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group and Chaired by Barry Sheerman MP, an eloquent and enthusiastic champion of British manufacturing, design and craft.

Speakers included Rosy Greenlees, Crafts Council Executive Director; Clare Reddington, Director of the Pervasive Media Studio and iShed at Watershed; Andy Huntington, Interaction Designer and Artist working out of the BERG studio, and Matt Durran, Artist, Curator and Glass Innovator with his collaborators from University College London Division of Surgery and Interventional Science at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

Crafting Capital is available for download here along with a write up of the event here.

The Internet of Things
The House of Commons event built upon conversations initiated at the Watershed in Bristol on 11 November, where the Crafts Council partnered with iShed and the Pervasive Media Studio on a workshop bringing together 40 technologists and 40 makers. The workshop provided a space to explore cross-disciplinary thinking and partnerships, and participants worked in groups of makers and technologists to generate collaborative ideas which included memory gloves, a networked tablecloth, a moral compass and a smart postcard. In the words of Clare Reddington “it’s about working with people who are not like you to share skills and come up with unexpected results.”

A video from the workshop is available here.

For further information about this area of Crafts Council work please contact our Policy Officer, Camilla Buchanan.

Craft in an Age of Change
Following a large-scale collaborative research project in 2011, the Crafts Council, with partners Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales and Craft Northern Ireland, will publish Craft in an Age of Change at the beginning of 2012. This major survey of contemporary craft at the beginning of the 21st century will examine the place of craft in the creative economy and the working patterns of makers and other craft professionals and look at issues including the value of craft skills in a knowledge economy, the impact of digital technology and environmental issues and the move to portfolio careers. This is the first survey to be conducted simultaneously in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the first to map the full range of occupations undertaken in the contemporary craft sector.

Crafts Council Exhibitions
The Crafts Council has also delivered a number of exhibitions this autumn in celebration of our 40th anniversary. Power of Making, a joint exhibition with the V&A, was the highlight of a busy year attracting 265,000 visitors with one month to go. The exhibition is snapshot of making today providing a timely examination of skills and encouraging visitors to consider both the process and outcomes of making. Many critics have called it one of the exhibitions of the year and it has sparked debate in the national media on the topic of skills and craft’s relationship to industry, manufacturing and growth.

The V&A and Crafts Council also held a Power of Making symposium on 9 December with sessions covering key themes raised by the exhibition including the case for teaching craft in schools and the interface between traditional making techniques and technology.

Another 40th anniversary exhibition Lost in Lace, presented in collaboration with Crafts Council and Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, opened at the end of October with 15,000 visitors in the first six weeks – more than double the anticipated number.

Public Consultations
The Crafts Council has also continued to respond to government and sector specific consultations this autumn.

In our comments on the draft National Planning Policy Framework to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) we argued that craft and other creative industries as well as cultural participation can make significant contributions local economies, landscapes and communities and as such should be recognised and supported in planning policies developed by the DCLG.

Read our response here.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) is now consulting on a discussion paper which proposes ‘domains’ and ‘headline measures’ through which national well-being should be assessed. This is part of an ongoing ONS programme ‘Measuring National Well-being’ which started in November 2010 with the national debate ‘What matters to you?’, and which aims to improve understanding of what should be included in measures of the nation’s well-being. Findings from the first consultation were published in July 2011 in the Measuring what Matters document which identified participation in cultural and creative activities as a factor contributing to well-being.

We published Craft and Well-being to coincide with the first consultation and will comment on the discussion paper before the 23 Jan deadline.

European Culture Forum
At the end of October the Crafts Council attended the European Culture Forum, a two day conference organised by the European Commission in Brussels, which brought together 800 policy makers and cultural organisations from EU Member States and beyond. Sessions examined how to expand audience reach and develop new business models using digital technology; the potential of cultural infrastructure to contribute to local and regional development and the factors facilitating its implementation, and the role of culture in relations with ‘third countries’ – specifically in the context of human rights. The Forum was an excellent opportunity to learn about European policy developments relevant to the sector, network with UK and European cultural organisations and to discuss Crafts Council work and research.

See the European Commission Culture Pages for further information.

Creative Europe
In further EU news the European Commission has proposed the ‘Creative Europe’ fund which would form the largest-ever cultural fund and distribute €1.8 billion to the cultural sector between 2014-20.

On 23 November the Creative Europe programme was sent to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament who will begin negotiations on the fund with a view to adopting the proposal in 2012-2013.

Read more on the proposed fund here.

2) Sector News:

ACE new spending plans
Arts Council England (ACE) published details of how it will spend £440 million of strategic funding between 2012 and 2015, to deliver the priorities set out in the ACE ten-year strategic plan ‘Achieving Great Art for Everyone’. Details of the ways in which funds will be invested as well as application and eligibility criteria are available here.

ACE has also published the Arts Council Plan for 2011-2015 document providing further details on how the organisation’s priorities will be met.

The Space
ACE is working with the BBC to develop The Space, which will be a digital arts media service and commissioning programme. The service – which will be available across PC, mobile, tablet and connected TV – aims to encourage artists and arts and cultural organisations to collaborate with each other and with partners to capture and create a wealth of cultural experiences, drawing on the summer of arts of the Olympic year. The programme will launch in May and run until the end of October 2012.

More here.

Design Forum
Crafts Council Director Rosy Greenlees attended the first Design Council Forum last month with delegates from the design sector, business, government and education. Debates focussed on whether the government should have a design strategy and electronic voting showed marginal agreement with this proposal. However, there was stronger agreement that any design strategy must be joined up across all government departments and of the need for evidence building on the positive effects of design.

More here.

3) Education and Training:

Restarting Britain: Design Education and Growth
Crafts Council Director Rosy Greenlees also attended the launch of the Restarting Britain report on design education at the House of Commons on 12 December. This is the first report from the Design Commission, which is a standing commission bringing together parliamentarians, representatives from industry and the public sector on design issues. The report forges a link between design education and economic growth in the UK; referencing government policy and discourse on the necessity of economic growth and rebalance and highlighting the potential of design in this process. It questions recent education policy changes which may threaten the provision of practical and cultural learning in schools. Other factors including the specific skillset of designers, design teaching, international comparisons and current impediments to success are also covered. The four recommendations from the report are:

1. Government needs a National Design Strategy that it takes ownership of in a well-informed and proactive way.

2. Whilst Government should oppose any move to remove design from the school curriculum, it also needs to think again about how design operates in schools.

3. Further Education routes into the sector need to be expanded and developed.

4. Higher Education centres of excellence – resource-intensive high quality centres teaching tomorrow’s innovators and researching future practice – need protecting and funding.

The Crafts Council fed into the initial consultation in July and our comments and research are referenced in the final document.

Read the report here.

Read the Crafts Council evidence here.

Publication of the Henley Review of Cultural Education by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education is still pending.

UCAS application figures 2012
In university news relevant to the sector, UCAS has published applicant numbers for the 2012 academic session. Statistics on application choices by subject show a decrease of 26 per cent to Creative Arts and Design Courses and of 19.7 per cent to Combined Arts courses, this compares with a 7 per cent decline to Maths and Computer Science courses and a 15.3 per cent decline to European Languages. UCAS has said it is too early to attribute the fall in application numbers to an increase in university fees as many course application deadlines are 15 January. It is perhaps worth noting that this year-on-year fall follows a substantial rise in applications in the preceding year.

More here.

John Hayes – Speech
Speaking at the Association of Colleges Annual Conference, the Skills Minister John Hayes summarised changes to Further Education (FE) under the current Government and his vision of a ‘free sector supporting growth and social renewal’. He also reiterated his belief in freedoms for colleges and that FE should respond to local needs.

The Minister also referred to the ‘New Challenges New Chances’ consultation which is the second BIS consultation on FE since May 2010 and intends to lead to a package of reforms until the end of the current parliament.

Read the speech here.

The Government response to ‘New Challenges New Chances’ was published on 1 December and measures in the response include the delivery of more Higher Education courses in colleges, teacher training and developing Level 4 and 5 apprenticeships and marketing them to businesses.

Read the response here.

The Crafts Council responded to the consultation in the autumn, and our comments stressed the importance of quality craft teaching throughout the education system, as well as the need for better signposting to existing training offers and increased online training provision. Drawing on examples from our programmes we outlined possible delivery models for FE and made recommendations on how FE can better meet employer needs, promote alternative entry points to the craft sector and how to raise awareness of what further education can offer.

Read our comments here.

Rethinking Apprenticeships – report
In his speech to the Association of Colleges John Hayes also referred to the ‘Rethinking Apprenticeships’ report published by the IPPR. His contribution to the publication, ‘Restoring the Worth of Apprenticeships’ (pp40-6) highlights not only the ‘intrinsic’, ‘deep-rooted’ value of craft in our culture but also the importance of ‘elevating the practical’ to achieve economic growth and rebalance, identifying apprenticeships as integral to this process.

In conclusion the Minister makes both an economic and social argument in support of practical and craft skills:

‘There is an economic imperative for change. Valuing practical skills is vital to our future because we simply cannot afford to waste the talents of so many of our people. Training improves productivity and so increases competitiveness. But advancing a sound economic case alone is not enough. The social case for skills is critical. Making society bigger, recognising the currency of craft, matters because when each feels valued, all feel valued. Spreading opportunity builds community wellbeing and nourishes shared values.’ (p45)

The report is available here.

Apprenticeships Summit
On 16 November the Business Secretary Vince Cable hosted a summit on apprenticeships at which he announced new measures to engage more young people in apprenticeships and to ensure that the skills they gain are relevant to employers.

More on the summit here.

Creative Apprenticeships – Evaluation
In further apprenticeships news, Creative and Cultural Skills has published an independent evaluation of its Creative Apprenticeship programme which predicts that the latest cohort of 210 apprentices will deliver a net gain of £2.4million to the UK economy over the coming decade, with expected net gains of £16.4million for the next five cohorts of learners.

Read the report here.

Apprenticeship in Jewellery
Last month Creative and Cultural Skills also announced that the first government recognised Apprenticeship in Jewellery is now underway. The apprenticeship is at Levels 2 and 3 and aims to provide new entry routes into disciplines such as Silversmithing and CAD/CAM Technology. The scheme starts at the Holts Academy of Jewellery in London and is followed by a year-long placement with an employer in London, in tandem with training days.

Read more here.

Employer Investment Fund – update
Later in the month Creative and Cultural Skills was named as one of the 18 Sector Skills Councils to receive a share of a £61million investment through the Employer Investment Fund to encourage employer investment in skills in the UK.

More here.

4) Innovation:

Innovate 2011
The Craft Council’s timely focus on cross-disciplinary working coincides with welcome recognition from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills of the importance of creative thinking and design for innovation. Speaking on innovation policy at the Technology Strategy Board Innovate ‘11 conference in October the Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘Innovation often centres on engineering skill. But it also involves design. There are lots of crossovers between creative industries and manufacturing… The alumni of the Royal College of Art are an eclectic collection of artists and engineers whose combined skills lie behind a remarkable amount of successful British Innovation.’

Read the full speech with further announcements here.

In our Crafting Capital briefing we argue that focused interventions designed to connect craft makers with scientists, technologists and engineers can help to deliver government policies on innovation and growth and warn that political and institutional separation of the arts and humanities from the sciences, technology and engineering threatens cross-disciplinary collaborations.

For example, the briefing describes the world’s first tissue engineered organ transplant which took place in July 2011, saving the life of a throat cancer patient. Glass maker Matt Durran played a crucial role in developing the technology behind the operation, specifically in creating moulds for the tissue that could withstand the fierce heat of a bio-reactor.

Growth and Innovation Fund
BIS has also announced a new investment of £20million into the Growth and Innovation Fund which was launched in March 2011 to boost investment in training and help businesses in key industries to grow. The new investment includes over £500,000 allocated to Skillset to develop a ‘quality assurance framework’ to ensure clearly signposted training for the creative industries and help identify high quality job applicants.

By 2013 over 200 Higher Education courses will have been assessed including HE Undergraduate, Postgraduate and level 4 courses. Further announcements include an investment of £1,579, 900 to develop training opportunities between employers and training providers delivered by the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills.

As above, the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural was awarded Growth and Innovation funding in July to develop apprenticeships for craft sub-sectors such as jewellery.

BIS announced further support for businesses to invest in skills through the Growth and Innovation Fund on 23 November.

More recent news on the fund here and here.

Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth
BIS has published a new strategy which places innovation and research at the centre of its growth agenda. The strategy identifies the research budget for universities, support for university-business interaction and support for businesses to innovate as key government measures aimed to encourage innovation.

Read the strategy here.

Make it in Great Britain
Last month the Business Secretary Vince Cable and Business Minster Mark Prisk launched the Make it in Great Britain campaign aiming to change perceptions of British manufacturing. The campaign has started with a national competition to find cutting-edge products and processes and will culminate in an exhibition at the Science Museum during the Olympic and Paralymic games.

More here.

Regional Growth Fund
In October the second round of awards from the Regional Growth Fund were announced and projects to support creative and digital businesses are amongst schemes which will benefit from the fund.

More from the DCMS here.

5) In Parliament:

Autumn Statement 2011
The Chancellor George Osborne announced the autumn statement to Parliament on 29 November; main points included the Government’s forecast for economic growth and plans for infrastructure development. More specifically in measures to support enterprise the Chancellor announced a £1 billion increase to the Regional Growth Fund (p39), which as above may benefit creative industry sectors, and continued focus on making the education and skills system better meet employer needs (p36).

More from the Treasury here.

Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle
Following the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle announced in October the Labour Party Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport team are:

Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP
Clive Efford MP
Helen Goodman MP
Dan Jarvis MP
Baroness Jones
Baroness Billingham
Lord Stevenson

Harriet Harman MP is now the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Dan Jarvis MP is the Shadow Minister. Since his appointment in October Dan Jarvis has announced that he will launch a report into arts in the regions and asked a wealth of parliamentary questions on creative industries, arts finance, design, cultural education and employment in the cultural sector amongst others. More on the Arts in the Regions report is available here and his questions are collated here.

Parliamentary Questions and Debates
Creative Industries Council – 20 October
In response to a question from Dan Jarvis, Ed Vaizey confirmed that the Creative Industries Council will meet next on the 24 January and summarised work to date.

See Hansard p97.

Wolf Report of Vocational Education – 25 October
In response to another question from Dan Jarvis the Schools Minister Nick Gibb provided an update on the implementation of the Wolf Report. He reconfirmed that all 27 recommendations from the report were accepted and listed those which have already been implemented.

See Hansard p141.

Creative Industries Debate – 3 November
The Lords held an extensive debate on the creative industries covering issues including cultural education, the higher education teaching grant and finance for creative businesses.

See Hansard pp8-32.

Arts Cuts – 3 November
Bill Esterson the Labour MP for Sefton Central asked the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt about the impact of public spending cuts on the arts. Jeremy Hunt referenced lottery funding and philanthropy in his response and Don Foster Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Culture Committee also questioned the Culture Secretary about Lottery funding.

See Hansard p7.

Preparation for the creative industries in schools – 5 December
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch asked how schools prepare young people for a career in the creative industries.

See Hansard p106.

6) Publications:

Creativity, Money, Love: Learning for the 21st Century
Creative and Cultural Skills and A New Direction have published a collection of essays by key figures from the creative industries and education sectors which examine the question ‘What does the education and skills system need to look like in order for people to lead fulfilled creative lives, and in order for the creative and cultural industries in the UK to thrive?’.

Read the report here.

ImagineNation: The Case for Cultural Learning
The Cultural Learning Alliance has published a short document which highlights the link between the knowledge, skills and experience gained through cultural learning and young people’s intellectual and social development and includes key statistics, facts, quotes and evidence for the sector to use in arguments about the importance of cultural learning.

Read the document here.

The Qualifications Blueprint for the Creative and Cultural Industries
Creative and Cultural Skills has replaced the Sector Qualifications Strategy with the Qualifications Blueprint document which aims to deliver a process of qualifications reform to make the system more coherent, flexible and simplified.

Read the document here.

Internships in the Arts
ACE has published guidelines for arts organisations clarifying the legal obligations of arts organisations offering internships.

Read the guidelines here.

Creative Industries Economic Estimates
The DCMS has released a bulletin containing estimates of the contribution of Creative Industries to the economy, including ‘experimental statistics’ on gross value added (GVA), employment and numbers of businesses within the creative industries.

Read the bulletin here.

Risky Business
This report from leading think tank DEMOS attempts to dispel the ‘myth’ that investment in the creative industries is risky and argues that the creative industries are one of the sectors with the greatest growth potential in the UK and that creative enterprises are more likely to still be in existence after five years than other businesses.

Read the report here.

Skills for Creative Industries
A report from the Confederation of British Industry published earlier in the autumn says that UK creative industries are expected to grow at 4 per cent on average between 2009-13, more than double predictions for the rest of the economy, and employ 1.3 million people by 2013, potentially more than financial services. In welcome reference to schools education the report also argues that the E-bac should prepare young people for their future careers and give them the opportunity to study a creative or technical subject.

Read the report here.

The Power of Knitting
Finally, an article by the Craft Council’s Participation and Learning team has been published in the Guardian Newspaper’s Teacher Network Blog. The article highlights the powerful educational potential of learning with the hands – developed through Crafts Council programmes such as Craft Club – skills which are useful for scientists, electricians, engineers and surgeons, as well as the next generation of makers and designers.

Read the article here.

See also