The creative economy - where next? Recent evidence
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and DCMS have appointed an Expert Advisory Panel to guide the Boundless Creativity Research project which will provide an evidence base to inform cultural recovery, renewal and future growth.
Arts Council England (ACE) has published seven principles to ensure an inclusive recovery, to help give cultural organisations and individuals the tools to approach Covid-19 recovery and delivery through the lens of Disability and relevant Equality Legislation.
The Policy and Evidence Centre's (PEC) Creative Skills Monitor shows that the craft sector employs higher proportions of skilled trades occupations (34% compared to a Creative Industries average of 4%) but with lower incomes. Those working in design, crafts, publishing and music, performing and visual arts are also less likely to be in receipt of training. (Note that this draws on the limited datasets used by DCMS to record craft. These mostly include those employed in craft businesses.)
The PEC has also established a clear link between studying a creative subject at university and gaining meaningful graduate employment in creative work, challenging current reliance on salary data as an indicator of higher education’s value for money. In a paper on graduate motivations and the economic returns of creative higher education, the researchers show that higher education is providing creative graduates with the high-level skills required to work in their chosen careers. However, these skills are not being remunerated at the same level as non-creative graduates who have different motivations for entering work and who work in different forms of employment. Although creative skills are in demand, creative graduates are not using pay as the primary basis for their career choices.
In a further paper, creative graduates, together with a diverse and cosmopolitan culture, are also linked to higher local growth. Looking at international creative students could therefore have implications for the UK’s Industrial Strategy and the levelling-up agenda pursued by the Government.
Two new pieces of research from ACE on the value of cultural organisations to our high streets show how important these spaces will be in reanimating local economies as we emerge from Covid-19. The first shows that cultural buildings are located at the heart of high streets and the second reviews evidence that demonstrates culture’s role in revitalising the high street by promoting social cohesion and supporting local economies in towns, cities and villages.
Creativity, Culture and Connection: Responses from arts and culture organisations in the COVID-19 crisis sets out enabling factors that allowed arts organisations to respond successfully to the challenges COVID-19 created and roadmaps for how individual organisations' successful responses can be embedded across wider cultural ecosystems. Case studies show how Farnham Maltings used their expertise in participatory arts to coordinate the local area’s practical crisis volunteering response; and how Jack Drum Arts in Durham were supported by the 3 Towns Area Action Partnership to deliver arts and crafts activity packs around communities.
There was a record quarterly decrease in self-employed workers in the first quarter of 20/21 according to the Office for National Statistics (August 2020). This is a common mode of employment for people working across portfolio careers in the craft sector. ONS figures (ONS 2020b) also reveal that job opportunities in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector had the highest year on year increase in vacancies in the period up to July 2020. Whilst the overwhelming majority of these jobs will not be in the craft sector, there will be many that are in agencies and intermediary roles that support craft businesses.
ACE have published a guide to help organisations prepare for the end of the Brexit Transition Period on 31 December 2020. Baroness Donaghy has written a letter to the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, to seek clarification about future arrangements for the UK creative industries in a trade deal with the EU.
The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales is calling for a basic income to pay artists a basic living allowance and help Wales rescue the struggling arts and culture sector. (Universal Basic Income is a direct, non-means tested payment for citizens.)