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  • Ann Sutton at COLLECT 2015. Photo: Iona Wolff

May 2015 policy brief

May policy brief

This month we report on:

New Government, new (but familiar) Ministers

John Whittingdale MP has been appointed as Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sport. A former chair of the Culture Media and Sport select committee for ten years, he also shadowed this brief for two years in opposition. We also welcome back Ed Vaizey, who has long been a supporter of craft, as Minister of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with responsibility for digital industries.

Responsibility for design has moved to Business, Innovation and Skills and the architecture brief has moved to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Many of you will remember the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s third report, Supporting the Creative Economy, published under John Whittingdale’s chairmanship in 2013. A number of the recommendations  are relevant to craft, including: the need to embrace STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths); that arts are added to the five subject areas currently on which the EBacc assessment is based; that students up to key stage 3 [and at key stage 4] receive a solid grounding in the arts and design; and the importance of re-examining the case for tax reliefs for freelancers working in the creative sector. The Crafts Council has written to welcome the Secretary of State into post and to reinforce the importance of these points.

The Queen's Speech

Three million new apprenticeships are to be created through the Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill. The Enterprise Bill will include measures to reduce regulation on small businesses in a bid to boost job creation. In addition, it proposes to create a new Small Business Conciliation Service, to help settle disputes between small and large businesses, especially over late payment practices. Lastly, the

National Insurance Contributions and Finance​ Bill will include a commitment to raise the threshold before which people pay income tax to £12,500.

Creative agenda launched

The Creative Industries Federation (we’re members) has launched a remarkable agenda for creative education. The agenda argues that a lack of arts education damages engineering as much as it hurts creative industries or the arts. It highlights concerns about the narrow focus some schools and policy makers have on science, technology and maths without art, drama, music, design or other similar subjects. Rosy Greenlees’ contribution makes the link between the agenda’s six calls to action and the Crafts Council’s education manifesto Our Future is in the Making.

Artworks call to improve support for artists

Artworks is calling on the sector to build on their work and create better support for artists. Artworks is seeking to improve continuing professional development and training opportunities for artists; promote quality and shared values across the spectrum of the practice; and create the conditions within which change can continue to take place.

Inspiring the next generation of women in the arts

Last month the Inspiring Women Campaign brought hundreds of successful women from the arts together with eight hundred schoolgirls at an exciting event to inspire the next generation of arts professionals. Hosted by Miriam González Durántez, the event highlighted successful careers for women in the arts and the importance of ensuring young women have the opportunity and mindset to succeed in careers in the arts.

How to unlock the potential of Europe’s young entrepreneurs

Only a fraction of young Europeans interested in becoming entrepreneurs actually go on to do so, according to Eurofound’s new report ‘Youth entrepreneurship in Europe: Values, attitudes, policies’. The report investigates successful initiatives implemented in five countries (excluding the UK) in the following areas: fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and culture; removing perceived practical and logistical barriers; and providing information, advice, coaching and mentoring to young would‑be entrepreneurs.  

Keeping international creative talent in the UK

The Guardian has highlighted how immigration policy may be inhibiting employment of overseas art students in the UK following completion of their studies. A letter from signatories including Grayson Perry, Sir Christopher Frayling and John Rocha outlined the “risk losing a generation of talented individuals to our competitors”. The freelance or unstructured work often found in the arts can make it hard to qualify for a visa.

UK makerspaces

NESTA reveals that the top three reasons to go to a Maker Space are for socialising (41%), learning (35%), and making (33%).  And currently more men than women are using maker spaces: 80% - 18% respectively. Nesta’s top findings blog post describes the new dataset of UK makerspaces and contains a set of data visualisations and a map showing the location of the UK’s ninety-seven maker spaces.

University-business collaboration is increasing

The National Centre for Universities and Business has launched its State of the Relationship Report 2015. The annual collaboration index shows that the UK’s business-university partnership, and its wider relationship with the public innovation system, is robust, healthy and growing.

The power of research

Arts Professional reports on the research benefits of a researchers-in-residence scheme hosted by Creativeworks London, one of the four AHRC funded knowledge exchange hubs. Small arts or creative sector companies apply to ‘host’ an academic researcher to work with them on a clearly defined research project. Projects have focused on unlocking the potential of archives, understanding new markets and technologies, developing commercialisation strategies, shaping and influencing policy and evaluating impact.

Funding a healthy research and innovation ecosystem

A report published by the University Alliance, Evolve. Connect. Succeed., sets out how universities and funders should help to secure a research ecosystem that will support the research and innovation the UK needs to succeed. The Alliance recommends that research must be selective to drive excellence; it must encourage collaboration; it must be responsive and relevant; and, finally, it must nurture future researchers. Science and innovation research is seen as key to the future of the UK’s success and competitiveness.

GCSE Art and Design: Conditions and Guidance announced

Ofqual has published the conditions and guidance for the reformed GCSE in art and design, following consultation in December 2014. The decisions confirm earlier announcements that reformed GCSEs in art and design will be assessed solely using non-exam assessment.

DCMS workforce management data

DCMS has published data on its workforce for the Financial Year 2014/15.

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