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February 2015 Policy Brief

This brief picks up policy issues during February

In a month of exhilarating boosts to the role of arts and creativity in our lives, this brief is packed with news on reports and initiatives on the value of culture.

Top of the list is the fascinating investigation from the Warwick Commission on Cultural Value, Enriching Britain: Culture Creativity and Growth.

The BBC and partners including Crafts Council, launched the year-long Get Creative initiative.

Reports were published on:

  • arts policy and young people from King’s Cultural Institute and A New Direction;
  • education from the RSA - plus a piece on the links between craft and science practice;
  • GPS Culture on rebalancing arts funding in England;
  • business and self-employment from Lord Young (small businesses), the Alliance Project (textiles growth) and from the All Party Manufacturing Group;
  • the digital creative economy from Nesta, the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee - and a forthcoming book from Thames and Hudson on the digital handmade, and
  • the impact of AHRC research.

Also this month we note the announcement of £109 million funding to support children’s cultural education; Ed Miliband’s speech on Labour’s arts policy; and a new online resource for media industries and arts.
Warwick Commission reports

Warwick Commission reports
Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth, summarises the findings and recommendations of the Warwick Commission on Cultural Value.

The report’s key message is that government and the cultural and creative industries must take a united, coherent approach to guarantee equal access for everyone to a rich, cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life. Barriers and inequalities in Britain today prevent this universal human right from being realised. This is bad for business and for society. The report makes recommendations on supporting the UK’s cultural ecology in five key areas.

Many recommendations echo those in the education manifesto for craft and making, Our Future is in the Making, including the need to strengthen the role of arts and media subjects in the English Baccalaureate and within the Ofsted inspection framework, and to remove barriers to the pursuit of creative subjects in higher education and as careers.

Supporting a number of the ambitions of the Warwick Commission., Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, proposes an ‘arts and culture contract’ between government and the sector.

Read reflections on Enriching Britain and Get Creative from Crafts Council Creative Programme Director Annie Warburton.

BBC Get Creative  gets going
The BBC has launched Get Creative, a campaign to challenge people to get creative, in a year-long celebration of British arts, culture and creativity. Director General Tony Hall said he hoped the campaign, run in collaboration with cultural network What Next? and partners including Crafts Council, would "inspire everyone to make art or do something creative."

Cultural Institute at King's report on history of education and culture in the UK
The Cultural Institute at King's has released a report calling for better informed policymaking to encourage young people’s engagement with arts. Step by step: the arts policy and young people 1944-2014 was published to mark the 50th anniversary of the first government arts policy , the White Paper, A Policy for the Arts: The First Steps.

Cultural capital
A New Direction’s new report explores the extent to which wealth inequality plays a part in stopping young people being able to take part in arts and culture.

The Our Cultural Capital survey suggests that young people from low income backgrounds take part less in every category of arts and culture than their peers and in particular have less engagement with regular clubs. It also hints at psychological barriers that lead many young people to opt-out of participation and seeks to unpick this through contextualising the research alongside other work in the field.

Ten essays on improving teacher quality (including design)
Licensed to Create, published by the RSA, is a collection of essays from leading thinkers in education. Eleven authors offer their perspective from practice, policy and academia on how we can improve teacher quality. Recommendations include recruiting more teachers with design-related degrees -not only to teach Design and Technology.

Links between craft and science practice
A piece by Joyce Lovelace, Busy Hands, Busy Brains, in an autumn edition of American Craft Magazine, explores the high correlation between craft skills and scientific practice, looking at research by Robert Root-Bernstein and Rex LaMore at Michigan State University.

GPS Culture publish final report on rebalancing arts funding in England
GPS Culture (Christopher Gordon, David Powell and Peter Stark) have published the concluding report in their series on rebalancing arts funding in England.  A New Destination for the Arts draws recommendations from their three previous reports published over the past two years and observes ‘an emerging cross-party and cross-sector consensus … that could form the basis for change towards a fairer, more honest, and more effective cultural policy for England.’

Report on small firms 2010 to 2015 by Lord Young
Lord Young’s report to government charts a culture change in which more people are choosing to be their own boss, already the trend in craft. The report covers changing public procurement, finance models and support for businesses and enterprise in education, including the role of Enterprise Advisers and Enterprise Passports to chart young people’s out of school activity.

Booming textiles industry
The Alliance Project’s report, Repatriation of UK Textiles Manufacture, looks at supply and demand in UK textile manufacturing, claiming that 20,000 new jobs could be created in UK textile manufacturing by 2020 as more companies source their fabrics from the UK. A large portion of these will be created in West Yorkshire, which the report’s authors identify as the “densest area of textile fabric and weaving in the UK”.

All Party Manufacturing Group manifesto
The APMG has launched its Manifesto, seeking to strengthen the links between the needs of industry and the education curriculum. In particular they urge all parties to ensure that high-quality careers advice understands manufacturing.

The geography of the UK’s creative and high–tech economies
This report from Nesta provides a systematic analysis of employment in the UK’s creative and high-tech economies. It analyses their size, growth and distribution across the country.

Digital literacy
The House of Lords Digital Skills Committee report, ‘Make or Break: The UK's Digital Future’, calls on government to secure the UK’s place as a global digital leader by, among other things,  making digital literacy a core subject at school, alongside English and Maths.

Thames and Hudson to publish Digital Handmade: Craftsmanship in the New Industrial Revolution
Written by Lucy Johnston the handbook to a new twenty-first century aesthetic presents the pioneering designers, artists and craftsmen who represent the very best of the digital-handmade movement (with a cover photo of a piece by Crafts Council trustee Michael Eden). The book launches 11 May.

Arts & Humanities Research Council’s research impact
The Impact of AHRC Research 2013-2014 shows how arts and humanities research contributes to economic growth in the creative and digital sectors. This includes, for example, knowledge exchange collaborations through the Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy which develop new business models, and contributions to museums and exhibitions which enhance the UK’s cultural offer to the world.

£109 million funding to support children’s cultural education programmes.
A range of projects that support children’s music, filmmaking, dance and local-heritage activities are to receive funding worth more than £109 million in government funding next year. Recipients include the BFI Film Academy, the National Youth Dance Company and the Sorrell Foundation’s Art and Design Saturday Clubs.

Labour party arts policy
Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Labour party, has pledged to create a universal entitlement to arts education. It would include strengthening creative education in schools and after-school clubs, widening access to arts and cultural institutions, and better career pathways from school, college and university into the arts or creative industries. He also said that schools would only be able to receive an “outstanding” rating if they offer creative subjects and cultural opportunities within a broad and balanced curriculum.

Ofsted Consultation Response
Ofsted recently published the summary of responses to its 2014 consultation for Better Inspection for All. In the response summary document Ofsted responds to advocacy from the music sector that no school should be judged good or outstanding if it is not at least good or outstanding in music. The Crafts Council and others have made similar proposals to Ofsted about creative education more widely.

Ofsted says that whilst it cannot commit to focusing inspection disproportionately on an individual subject, it agrees with the broader point that inspection must take account of whether schools offer a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum. As a result Ofsted has decided that it will consider the breadth and balance of a provider’s curriculum under the effectiveness of leadership and management judgement.

The new Ofsted Handbook will be published later in 2015 and introduced in inspections from September 2015.

New web resource for media industries and arts
Media and cultural work is a new online resource for people – such as campaigners, employers, policymakers, trade unionists and academics – who want to find ways to make cultural work better and more sustainable.