Here are this month’s headlines – and with so many of them addressing small businesses we’re also asking for your experiences about finding studios, in order to help us support makers to access space.
- Craft by numbers – did you know that microbusinesses (which includes most craft businesses) account for 33 per cent of private sector employment and 19 per cent of UK total output? See the RSA’s report, below, to find out more.
- The arts in parliament – arts are still excluded from the Ebacc, while peers are enthusiastic about the creative industries, plus new appointments for culture media and sport.
- Some growth… Arts Council Chair’s challenge to the creative industries, growing Chinese demand for British culture, growing craft businesses, the role on anchor institutions in local economies, microbusinesses on the up, and rising interest in craft…
- Some decline in adult skills funding and in council budgets for the arts.
- Diversity – a new guide to broadening the curriculum and learning experience.
- Skills – calls for young people to have technical and creative skills, plus a plea to improve the image of apprenticeships.
- A report on IP in the creative industries.
- And the Queen’s birthday honours.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb has confirmed that the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), subjects that secondary schools must include in their GCSE curriculum if they are to attain an ‘outstanding’ status through Ofsted, are compulsory and will not contain arts subjects. In a speech entitled “The social justice case for an academic curriculum”, the Minister did not appear to be concerned about the impact on arts subjects and offered “no apology” as “the curriculum always involves trade-offs”. The Crafts Council has joined with the Creative Industries Federation in writing to Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education to highlight the importance of creative subjects, echoing Our Future is in the Making our education Manifesto for craft and making.
Peers responded passionately to a motion tabled by Conservative peer Baronness Wheatcroft, celebrated the £77bn contribution made by the creative industries to the UK economy and hailing government support as ‘investment’. At the same time, peers pointed to a series of threats to the sector. Baroness King of Bow highlighted the risk that “excessive funding cuts” could “fatally undermine access to arts and culture for all”. Lady Kidron pointed to earlier commitments to the arts as a tool of social mobility and warned of a “matrix of policies … creating insurmountable obstacles to the talented youngsters who might otherwise have been our next generation of creatives”.
Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, has been elected Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, a post previously held by current Culture Minister John Whittingdale. His cultural interests include serving on the Boards of the Hay Festival and the Roundhouse.
Sheryll Murray – Member of Parliament for South East Cornwall - has been appointed as Ed Vaizey’s Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Heather Wheeler - Member of Parliament for South Derbyshire - has been appointed as John Whittingdale’s Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Sir Peter Bazalgette, Arts Council England Chair, writes about the future of the creative industries in England, in which he describes the sector as a “coiled spring just waiting to be set free.” He sets a challenge to double the size of the industry by 2025 or earlier.
And noting Sir Peter’s call, here’s a belated pointer to a new book on craft - Craft and the Creative Economy (Luckman, Susan 2015, Craft and the Creative Economy, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke and New York) examines the place of craft in the contemporary cultural economy. It addresses why we are now seeing such a significant growth of interest in craft and making, what consumer demand for handmade objects tells us about consumer preferences, authenticity and ethical consumption, and, the cultural work models that underpin craft micro-enterprise.
The Crafts Council collaborated with ResPublica on a blog series exploring growth in craft businesses. It featured makers Rebecca Gouldson and Rosalind Wyatt who are growing their businesses, as well as Etsy, Folksy and Crafts Council colleagues.
New research from the RSA finds that many microbusinesses are thriving, boosted by new technologies, changing consumer habits and a pro-business policy agenda. Defined as firms with 0-9 employees, there are now 5 million such businesses in the UK, up from 3.5 million in 2000. In contrast, the populations of all other sized firms have either increased only marginally or fallen in number. The RSA has described this phenomenon as the ‘second age of small’, in reference to the fact that cottage industries were once the norm in pre-industrial Britain.
Microbusinesses also have an important role to play in job creation. While their employees may be lower paid and have fewer protections than workers in large firms, government data clearly shows they are one of the most satisfied groups in the labour market. They score particularly high on measures of autonomy, involvement in decision-making, loyalty to the organisation and relations with management. While policymakers have in the past called for a rebalancing of the economy in terms of sectors, this report calls for a rebalancing in terms of market concentration.
Nesta has been using social media platforms to understand, and grow, Chinese demand for British culture. China is producing 20 million new English speakers every year. Almost one quarter of students on full-time taught postgraduate courses at English universities are Chinese. Such trends point to very significant future expansions in the English–speaking market for British culture. Two new reports focus on what the UK’s cultural industries, such as publishing, film and music, can learn from China’s social networks, and in time there may be wider lessons to learn for craft and visual arts.
The Centre for Local Economic Strategies reports on the role of anchor institutions in creating a good local economy. Anchor institutions typically include: local authorities, universities, further education colleges, hospital trusts, and housing organisations (and we would argue that arts organisations also act as ‘anchors’ in their communities). The model draws on the notion of developing from within, through the creation of worker led cooperatives, not only to deliver key public services but to provide other goods for the local population.
Professor Alison Wolf, in her new report Heading for the precipice: Can further and higher education funding policies be sustained? explores the differences in funding arrangements for further and higher education. The report highlights how resources for teaching in the adult skills sector have declined, whilst resources for teaching in universities have increased.
The Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association have released their latest report, Financial Settlements for Culture & Leisure 15/16 and beyond. The report shows that 60% of local authorities have needed to implement a reduction in grants to at least one of their cultural and leisure service areas. The services hit hardest, with cuts exceeding 15%, include the arts, but also sport and leisure facilities, sports development, parks and open spaces.
A new UAL and HEA Scotland guide offers support in delivering a broader curriculum and learning experience, to reflect more closely the global diversity of the international creative industries. Embedding equality and diversity in the curriculum: an art and design practitioner’s guide looks at issues of equality and diversity in the curriculum specifically related to the art, design and communication subject discipline.
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills is calling for schools and universities to focus on giving young people a combination of technical and creative skills. Employers in the creative sector are struggling to recruit workers with strong digital skills, according to a new report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. With the rise of digitisation, social media, big data and cloud computing, arts workers now require a combination of technical, creative, entrepreneurial and softer skills. The report predicts that 36,000 new roles will be created in the creative arts and entertainment between 2012 and 2022, with many more workers needed to replace those leaving the sector.
The Guardian Culture Professionals site hears from ex-museum apprentice Eli Bligh-Briggs about how we need to create accessible, authentic and fit-for-purpose apprenticeships that benefit both individual and sector. The Crafts Council is a partner in the Craft Apprenticeship Trailblazer. We are working to strengthen support to access apprenticeships for the many sole traders and freelancers working in craft and other creative industries.
As part of Creativeworks London’s ongoing Digital Economy research strand, Professor Chris Reed, from the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at QMUL has produced a White paper entitled Using IP in the Creative Industries, written after a series of workshops to explore how creatives exploit IP outside the traditional structures of formal contracts.
Among the 1,163 recipients of this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours were:
- Maria Balshaw, Whitworth Art Gallery
- Susan Jones, services to the arts
- Philippa Jane Glanville - services to decorative arts and arts heritage
- Helen Kilbride-Roberts, Chair of Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, services to arts and crafts
- Deborah Bliss - services to hand-knitting and craft industry
- Trevor Lloyd - services to craft of bookbinding and book restoration
- Raymond Key - services to the craft of wood turning
Many congratulationsto all.
Often makers tell us of challenges in finding studio space. We’ve decided to gather some evidence about experiences, to help us to support makers to access studio space. Please complete our short survey before 15 July - it should take no more than 5-10 minutes of your time.