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  • Alice Kettle, Represented at COLLECT 2015 by Contemporary Applied Arts. Photo: Sophie Mutevelian

April 2015 policy brief

April brings a flavour of the General Election and a raft of new reports

In our April policy brief -

Election manifestos

Here’s a quick summary of what some of the political parties are saying about arts and culture:

The Conservative party manifesto says “The creative industries have become our fastest-growing economic sector, contributing nearly £77 billion to the UK economy – driven in part by the tax incentives for films, theatre, video games, animation and orchestras we introduced.”

In addition, the Conservatives will:

  • “Keep our major national museums and galleries free to enter and enable our cultural institutions to benefit from greater financial autonomy to use their budgets as they see fit.”
  • Support a Great Exhibition in the North;
  • Back plans for a new theatre, The Factory, Manchester; and
  • Help the Manchester Museum, in partnership with the British Museum, to establish a new India Gallery.

(In March the Conservatives published Culture and Creativity: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, a reflection on their achievements and future policies.)   

The Labour party manifesto says “Labour believes that art and culture gives form to our hopes and aspirations and defines our heritage as a nation. The arts allow us to celebrate our common humanity in the creation and celebration of beauty. The arts should belong to all and be open to all to take part in. We will guarantee a universal entitlement to a creative education so that every young person has access to cultural activity and the arts by strengthening creative education in schools and after-school clubs.”

In addition, Labour

  • Will require institutions that receive arts funding to open up their doors to young people
  • Reaffirms its “commitment to universal free admission to ensure that our great works of art and national heritage can be enjoyed in all parts of the country.”
  • Believes “creativity is the powerhouse of a prosperous economy. It is the source of economic innovation and a powerful force in social renewal” and will increase the number of apprenticeships in the creative industries.
  • Create a Prime Minister’s Committee on the Arts, Culture and Creative Industries, with a membership drawn from all sectors and regions.

(At the end of March Labour published Leading the Field: A Review of the Creative Industries, an independent review of policy options for the UK’s creative industries.)

The Liberal Democrats manifesto says the party “understand that arts, creative industries and culture are crucial to Britain’s success and essential for personal fulfilment and quality of life. The UK’s creative sector has been one of the great success stories of the past five years, and a critical driver of our recovery.

The Lib Dems

  • “believe the arts have an essential role in our education system and will work to encourage creativity in our schools and universities”
  • Will maintain free access to national museums and galleries, while giving these institutions greater autonomy.
  • Support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.

The Green Party manifesto says “public support for the arts is part of a civilised society.”

The Green Party will

  • “Increase government arts funding by £500m a year to restore the cuts made since 2010 and reinstate proper levels of funding to local authorities, helping to keep museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open”
  • Reduce VAT to 5% for live performances
  • Support initiatives to make the arts and sports accessible to all.

The UK Independence Party manifesto says it will create a dedicated Minister of State for Heritage and Tourism, attached to the Cabinet Office.

It’s also worth noting that apprenticeships have featured in all campaigns – we’ll be watching developments closely.

Six of the UK’s main political parties arts and culture spokespeople recently assembled for The Culture Debate. Chaired by Martha Kearney at the Royal Opera House, they debated questions on cultural and creative industries policy. 

Support for the growing self-employed community

The RSA has published a new report, Boosting the Living Standards of the Self-employed. The main message is that while the vast majority of the self-employed enjoy what they do, they face challenges which cannot be ignored. The report puts forward recommendations to address issues such as earnings, savings, pensions, mortgages and welfare.

The study is intended to move the public debate forward from the question of why the self-employed community is growing, to how government, business and wider society can adapt to this potentially enduring trend.

On the same theme, Creative and Cultural Skills’ report, Building a Creative Nation: the Next Decade, is a useful overview of what the current literature tells us about the future skills needs of the creative and cultural industries. In a related blog, Pauline Tambling sets out three challenges for young people:

  • The need to ‘make a job’ rather than apply for one
  • The jobs that do exist are unseen (often backstage, technical, making etc.)
  • The need for all young people to be ‘T-shaped’, i.e., to have a ‘deep’ technical skill augmented by a wide range of ‘wrap-around’ skills.

The vibrancy of the entrepreneurial ecosystem

The Kauffman Foundation has released a new report recommending four key indicators as a starting point to assess the vibrancy of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem:

  • Density
  • Fluidity
  • Connectivity
  • and Diversity

This is not seen as an exhaustive list, but the report authors suggest these indicators will provide a clear picture of the effectiveness of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and what is needed. The indicators are intended to act as the basis of discussions and further research.

How should our schools respond to the demands of the twenty first century labour market? Eight perspectives

This new report from Education and Employers explores the relationship between education and employment, highlighting ways in which the labour market has become more hostile to young people over the last generation. Three themes emerge: the labour market is more complex and opaque, increasing the significance of careers education; school to work transitions have become more fractured, demanding new recruitment skills and resiliency from young people; and, employers offering jobs with greatest prospects expect young people to be personally effective in applying knowledge in unfamiliar situations, demanding that schools place greater emphasis on applied learning and enterprise education.

London’s creative employees are increasing in number

GLA Intelligence have produced a set of time series data of jobs by sector in London which assesses the extent of London’s specialisation by sector. It’s interesting to note that the number of employees in the creative, arts and entertainment sub-sector (figure 49) is creeping back up to 2007/08 levels of 32,000+ but still significantly short of 2001/02 levels of 40,000.

New Creative Markets

The New Creative Markets programme has provided support to London-based visual artists, designers, designer-makers between 2012 and 2015, combining business skills training with industry knowledge. This interim evaluation caught our eye with some interesting figures for the craft practitioners and designers taking part in the programme. The makers on the programme reported the lowest levels of income and profitability but the highest business confidence in reaching new customers. The report also looks at identified business needs.

The creative economy and the future of employment

Nesta makes recommendations for how government can help create one million new creative jobs by 2030, including a call to end the bias against multi-disciplinary education and turn STEM into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). The recommendations underline the importance of including an arts subject in the English Baccalaureate and challenge the Russell Group of universities to include arts in their list of facilitating subjects that students are advised to choose to keep their university options open. (These complement the calls for change in the Crafts Council’s education manifesto for craft and making Our Future is in the Making.)

Creativity Vs Robots explores future automation and creativity in the UK and US workforces, finding that creative jobs will be much more resistant to automation than most other jobs.

And Nesta has published ten tips for running a successful creative business. Yes, it includes fun…

The trials and tribulations of self-employment

Susan Jones reflects in a Guardian blog on her feelings about freelance life in the arts. She recommends that daily walks are a must for creative inspiration, but says falling fee rates and cash flow troubles need addressing.

Small Business Act becomes law

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act is intended to help small businesses by:

  • improving access to finance through increasing the availability and sources of investment for small businesses;
  • opening up access to small business credit data, making it easier for a small business to seek a loan from a lender other than their bank;
  • requiring banks to pass on details of small and mid-sized businesses they decline for a loan, with the firm’s permission, to online platforms which can help match them with alternative finance providers;
  • introducing ‘cheque imaging’ to speed up cheque clearing times and increase customer choice in ways to pay.

Apprenticeship benefits

This report for the Skills Funding Agency examines the benefits that apprentices can offer businesses across the UK both while they are training and long after they have completed their apprenticeships. The research also considers the extent to which apprenticeships can help address skills shortages which are starting to become a constraint on growth across much of the UK economy.

Association of Colleges warns of the end of adult education and training by 2020

New research reveals that over 190,000 course places for people aged 19 and over could be lost next year alone, as funding for adult education decreases by 24% for the 2015-16 academic year. Adult education and training has been squeezed by funding cuts in recent years, with the number of adult students participating in Level 3 courses falling by 17.9 per cent between 2012/13 and 2013/14.

Community learning (commonly referred to as adult learning) is often a key starting point for those looking to start a second career in craft and is thus an important component of the training landscape for the sector. The Crafts Council’s Studying Craft – trends in craft education and training summary report noted participation in craft community learning courses is over twice as high as in other subjects and there was an increase in participation in craft of 56% between 2007/08 and 2010/11 , set against a 1% decline in all subjects.

A further look at Taking Part

In our last policy brief we looked at statistics from DCMS’ 2013/14 Taking Part reports and this month we take a closer look at the craft statistics in Focus on: Art Forms.

Textile crafts continued to show the highest level of participation in 2013/14 of twenty-two art forms, a similar figure to 2005/06.  However, attendance at craft exhibitions has seen a decrease to 10.9% from 2005/6.

What is the environmental impact of arts and culture?

Julie’s Bicycle, a charity bridging the gap between environmental sustainability and the creative industries, has published interim findings from a project exploring how the arts and culture sector is increasingly choosing to take positive action on the environment. The report shows that the volume of CO2e that has been saved by the 490 organisations involved in 2013/14 would fill the Royal Albert Hall 47 times.

The social impact of culture and sport

Evidence from DCMS, set out in its recent Review of the Social Impacts of Culture and Sport, points to positive associations between participation in arts and health, social capital, crime and education. The report highlights the lack of scientific research in this area and suggests “there is a need for more research into the effects of the arts on the general population and other groups such as young people who are at risk of committing crime”.

Craft reduces likelihood of mild cognitive impairment

The CNN news network highlighted a 2011 study in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry that shows craft activities reduce the chance of developing mild cognitive impairment.

And craft is booming!

Britain’s booming interest in craft is explored in a Guardian article which draws on Crafts Council research in our series Studying Craft.

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