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Home // What We Do // April 2016 Policy Brief
  • Unfurling Splendour, Catherine Bertola, 2015. Part of the Acts of Making festival in Plymouth and Mount Edgcumbe. Photo: Sophie Mutevelian

April 2016 Policy Brief

There are three main themes to our brief this month:


Local government and the arts

Local authority budgets are under unprecedented pressure, yet this New Local Government Network and Arts Council England report shows that there is huge scope for entrepreneurial and community-based approaches. The Crafts Council worked closely with local authorities and galleries in Plymouth, Wolverhampton and Gateshead in presenting our recent Acts of Making festival.

A new nef (New Economics Foundation) report considers how arts and culture are improving public services. The research draws on work with local authorities and clinical commissioning groups in Kent and Gloucestershire, to test out how arts and cultural activities could become a more central feature of local public services. Solutions include improved relationship building and changes to procurement to better engage arts and cultural organisations.

The Select Committee for Communities and Local Government recently called for a comprehensive review of national planning policy. The committee helpfully recommends a review of the current policy of development as the preferred option for brownfield sites. Such a review might allow local authorities more flexibility to support studio space.

Meanwhile, the Welsh government has accepted all recommendations in an Expert Review of Local Museums in Wales. Actions include developing a museums’ charter and introducing an obligation for Welsh local authorities to set out their intentions for museum services.

Creative Economy Employment in the US, Canada and the UK

The US has the largest creative economy employment of the US, UK and Canada, employing 14.2 million people, according to a new Nesta report. Canada has the largest creative economy employment as a percentage of the workforce at 12.9 per cent. (Creative economy employment counts those in creative industries and in creative occupations outside of these.)

What the maker movement means for China

Makerspaces have spread rapidly across China in the last five years. Nesta’s report explores how makerspaces are helping China to move from a low-cost manufacturing economy to one led by innovation and design.

Parliamentary debates

A House of Lords debate on apprenticeships raised concerns about pay, skills and women’s access to apprenticeships in non-traditional occupations (associated with STEM). Baroness Neville-Rolfe gave assurances that the system will help the continuation of craft apprenticeships, in response to a question from Lord Cormack on William Morris Craft Fellowships.

A Lords debate to mark world intellectual property day (26th April) noted how IP rights help the British creative sector. Lord Clement-Jones highlighted how the recent Trunki judgment means that registered design rights have even less protection than was previously thought.

A petition opposing the exclusion of creative subjects from the EBacc education performance measure has reached 100,000 signatures and will now be debated in Parliament on 4 July. The government has a target for 90% of each school’s pupils to be entered for the EBacc by 2020.

Study into private philanthropy in arts and culture         

Arts Council England (ACE) is relaunching the Private Investment in Culture survey, exploring how the private sector engages with the arts and culture sector. ACE invites all arts and culture organisations in England to take part.

Survey of entrepreneurs and start-ups in the EU

The EU Commission is holding a public consultation to hear the views of entrepreneurs and start-ups, as well as other stakeholders, on how to improve the environment for start-ups in the EU.

The Economics of Touring

The Touring Exhibitions Group has launched research and a toolkit on the economics of touring. The Crafts Council was a contributor. The research finds that 32% of touring exhibitions are still available for hire without a fee.

Countries of Culture inquiry

The Crafts Council responded to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport’s Countries of Culture inquiry, highlighting the value and impact of craft in the regions, new funding models and cultural partnerships.

Economic estimates consultation

We responded to the DCMS consultation on the Creative Industries Economic Estimates methodology, welcoming proposals to measure the creative economy and microbusinesses, both of which we advocated in our 2014 report Measuring the Craft Economy.

The Creative Industries Economic Estimates 2016 noted that current figures are ‘likely to be a significant under-estimate of the scale of the true crafts industry’. Our response drew attention to the need to include all of the codes for craft highlighted in our 2014 report, to ensure the estimates accurately represent all occupations in the crafts sector.