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Home // What We Do // July 2015 Policy Brief
  • Unspoken Ocean IV, Anna S King, represented by Gallery Ten at COLLECT 2015. Photo: Juno Snowdon

July 2015 Policy Brief

Analysing craft research

We’re pleased to publish Researching Craft: An analysis of Research Excellence Framework impact case studies relevant to craft. Research helps us understand changes in practice and how craft is viewed, exhibited, collected and exchanged. This report analyses the impact case studies for craft research that were undertaken for the Research Excellence Framework, the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The report brings together and summarises the impact of craft research for makers and partners in HE and beyond.

Public investment in the arts

Public spending on the arts brings significant growth to the commercial creative industries, which in turn boosts the wider UK economy, several recent reports confirm.

The Creative Industries Federation published The Arts and Growth report setting out in detail the importance of public investment in the arts and its contribution to the creative industries.

The report was published alongside Arts Council England’s Contribution of the arts and culture sector to the national economy. New evidence shows the resilience of the arts and culture sector (a sub-set of the creative industries) which contributes £7.7bn to the UK economy annually, an increase of 35.8% between 2010 and 2013. For every pound invested in arts and culture, an additional £1.06 is generated in the economy. The report reveals that Britain invests a smaller percentage, 0.3%, of its total GDP on arts and culture than other countries. Germany invests 0.4%, Denmark 0.7% and France 0.8%, with the EU average at 0.5%.

The report also shows that more than one in 12 UK jobs are in the creative economy, with employment increasing 5% between 2013 and 2014, more than double the  2.1% jobs growth in the wider economy.

Interestingly, these rises are set against the fact that between April 2014 and March 2015, 77 per cent of adults had attended or participated in the arts at least once in the previous year, a similar rate to 2005/06 and 2013/14 but lower than 2012/13 (78%) - see the Government’s Taking Part figures. Against this, over half of adults (52%) had visited a museum or gallery in In 2014/15. Though a similar proportion to 2013/14 and 2012/13, this was significantly higher than in any survey year between 2005/06 and 2011/12. This increase was seen across all English regions.

And in specific areas of the UK –

  • Taking Part figures show a significant increase in arts engagement in the North West since 2005/06 (from 72% to 78%) with engagement in all other regions remaining steady.
  • GLA Economics analysed the value of cultural tourism to London, estimating that tourism generated £10 billion in the capital in 2013, supporting 278,000 jobs, an increase of 1.7 per cent on the year previously, and an increase of 16.7 per cent compared to 2009.
  • The Creative Skills Investment Plan from Skills Development Scotland (SDS) shows that the creative industries are worth more than £5bn to the Scottish economy and employ around 68,600 people. The report estimates that 43,000 new workers will be required over the next 10 years to fill new roles and replace those leaving the sector.

New figures on the qualification level and socio-economic status of those working in craft

DCMS have published new figures on creative industries employment in Creative Industries: Focus on Employment June 2015. See our full briefing on these figures.

The figures show a relatively low average qualification level of people working in craft, compared to those working in other creative industries, and a higher proportion of people from less advantaged backgrounds. DCMS acknowledge that the figures ‘should be treated with caution due to the difficulties in measuring crafts in the current occupational and industry codes’.

Certainly the figures contrast with Crafts Council figures (Craft in an Age of Change p6) which show that those with a craft-related degree account for 61% of makers. With an estimated average maker age of 48 (ibid.), those working in craft were also, in some cases, pursuing higher education qualifications at a time when student numbers in higher education were far lower than today.

The Crafts Council continues to advocate for more comprehensive government data, drawing on the contribution of craft skills in a broader set of craft disciplines and employment settings than are currently represented (see Measuring the Craft Economy). The point here is that irrespective of the numbers of makers obtaining higher education qualifications, they are all dependent on participation in craft-related education and training in their earlier education, in particular at GSCE, A Level and equivalent qualifications. These remain vital routes into craft in the UK, both for those going onto further and higher education, and in particular for those people who may gain no further qualifications at a higher level. Without this educational foundation, the risk to the pipeline of future makers is alarming.

Inequalities in culture of rising concern

Peers in the House of Lords engaged enthusiastically in a debate last month led by Conservative peer Baronness Wheatcroft, calling for increased support for the creative industries. Peers celebrated the £7.7bn contribution made by the sector to the UK economy  but pointed to a number of threats, including a “matrix of policies” that have “sucked the less privileged out of the humanities, arts and performing arts” (Baroness Kidron).

Meanwhile, the AHRC’s Cultural Value Project published its critical literature review on Cultural Value and Inequality. Looking at how cultural value is consumed and produced, the report concludes that all the research reviewed suggests an undeniable connection between cultural value and inequality and that public policy must do more to provide robust research, particularly about cultural production.

In the context of education and skills…

Nicky Morgan defends the Government’s commitment to arts education
The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan has said that “a young person’s education cannot be complete unless it includes the arts”. In a speech at the Roundhouse to members of the Creative Industries Federation, she said “I reject any suggestion that I or this government think that arts subjects are in any way less important or less worthy than other subjects for study in school” but stopped short of including arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc).

Back in June we noted how Schools Minister Nick Gibb made “no apology” for keeping the arts out of the EBacc, and we weren’t the only ones to notice. The BACC for the Future campaign is concerned that the EBacc has harmed take-up of creative subjects in schools and has called for creative subjects to be valued equally in accountability measures. BACC figures show a fall in pupils taking art and design lessons from 194,825 in 2007 to 177,206 in 2014, and a larger drop off in the number of pupils taking Design & Technology courses from 335,806 in 2007 to 200,133 in 2014.

Our own Education Manifesto for Craft and Making seeks to secure the future of craft education, and reverse falling participation in craft subjects.

Ofqual launches consultation on GCSE, AS and A level subjects for 2017

Ofqual has launched its consultation paper Developing GCSEs in Design and Technology for First Teaching in 2017. The closing date for responses is 26th August 2015. The proposals confirm the intention to offer a single title qualification for the subject called Design and Technology.

Skilled workers 'may vanish' if further education budget cuts continue

Britain’s supply of skilled workers may “vanish into history” if looming budget cuts are made in further education and the unchecked expansion of universities is allowed to continue, according to Professor Alison Wolf, author of the Wolf review of vocational education. Heading for the precipice shows how “unstable, inefficient, untenable and unjust” funding is destroying education provision for school-leavers outside of universities. Hardest hit are likely to be small companies in manufacturing areas such as the West Midlands, which will be unable to compete with larger companies that can fund their own in-house training.

Breaking down barriers between universities and industry

A report commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says the complexity of existing public support mechanisms causes “frustration and confusion” among academics, meaning the UK is not “reaping the full potential” of connecting innovative businesses with the “excellence in the research base” at UK universities. The Dowling review of business-university research collaborations proposes reducing the overall number of schemes, and simplifying the way in which they are accessed by users, calling on the government to provide funding to create a "critical mass of use-inspired research activity within universities".

The Crafts Council’s new research strategy underlines our priority to work in partnership with higher education, which we are starting to implement through partnership in a number of new research proposals.

The value of investment in arts and humanities research

Meanwhile, the Arts & Humanities Research Council has published its latest Annual Report. The report highlights the AHRC’s work to support the UK’s creative economy, including the ‘fusing’ of technology platforms, design and creative content, which is fuelling high-growth creative clusters. The report puts a spotlight on Bristol and Bath by Design, in which the Crafts Council is a partner. The project is to undertake the first comprehensive analysis of design in the region.

A search of the AHRC database for funded research reveals a total of 29 studies relevant to craft which the AHRC has funded over the period since 1998 (when the database started).


Independent review of self-employment in the UK

In a review for the Department for Business, leading entrepreneur Julie Deane OBE, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company, will explore why people opt to be self-employed, as well as the different types of work that they carry out, looking into the challenges and issues faced by people who are self-employed. The review will also look at what can be done to provide more security and peace of mind, for example, when juggling self-employment and having a family, buying a home or saving for retirement (or, in the case of makers, juggling portfolio working!)

New centre on wellbeing measurement

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics has established a What Works Centre for Wellbeing to enable a range of stakeholders to access independent, high quality evidence syntheses across a broad range of policy areas, including culture.

New skills guide

The Skills Commission has launched a Guide to the Skills System with key messages to enhance quality and confidence and to boost employer engagement. It contains a short history of skills and an overview of the skills system with useful maps and infographics on, for example, qualifications, funding and progression routes.

Free pocket sized computer that lets you get creative technology

A BBC micro: bit will be given to every child in Year 7 across the UK, teaching them to be creative with technology and coding, in the BBC's “most ambitious education initiative in 30 years”. The micro: bit can be used in a variety of ways and incorporates features such as LED lights, programmable buttons, Bluetooth technology, output rings, built in motion sensor and direction detector as it is completely programmable. It is intended to inspire a new generation of tech pioneers.

New National Occupational Standards for design and jewellery

Creative & Cultural Skills is to review the National Occupational Standards (NOS) suites for design and jewellery. A NOS describes what 'best' looks like for a skill or function in a particular job. They are looking for expert contributions to make sure the standards remain robust, relevant and useful to all those using them within qualifications. If you are involved in the design and/or jewellery sectors and would like to help review the standards, please email Workforce Development Specialist rowena@freedom-road.co.uk.