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March 2015 Policy Brief

This month we look at:

All things money:

New research and strategy in employment and skills:

And, more broadly:


Budget tax break - for orchestras

In the 18 March budget the Chancellor announced an £11m investment in tech incubators in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. (The Sheffield ‘Maker Hub’ will receive £3.5m government investment to renovate a former Co-op department store in the Castlegate area.) These tech incubators are to create thriving local ecosystems by nurturing start-ups, fostering collaboration, and providing mentoring, learning and business support.

Additional funding of £1.1m will support women to take their business online and take advantage of superfast broadband.

There were also details of the orchestra tax relief announced in the Autumn statement. Modelled on the existing theatre tax relief, it will provide a corporation tax deduction at a rate of 25% on qualifying expenditure such as player fees, rehearsal costs and venue hire. The move joins a number of other creative sector tax reliefs supporting films, theatre, animation and video games. The announcement further incentivises the Crafts Council and partners to explore tax breaks in the visual arts.

And on tax relief for film - a new report commissioned by the BFI and partners, The Economic Contribution of the UK’s Film, High-end TV, Video Games and Animation Programme Sectors, shows that  Government tax reliefs for the UK’s screen industries is stimulating business growth and a return of more than £6bn a year for the UK economy.

New Arts Index

The findings of the 2015 Arts Index, published by The National Campaign for the Arts, question whether the arts are living on borrowed time. Designed to assess the health of the arts sector and the role it plays in society, the latest edition looks at the arts in England from 2007-14. The good news is that attendance and participation is up, satisfaction is on the increase, there are more people employed by the arts, plus a greater positive impact on the economy. However, combined public funding has fallen by 22 index points since 2009-10 and the forecast is that funding will get tougher. David Brownlee blogs about the index here.

Paying Artists’ goals

a-n’s Paying Artists campaign have published a pamphlet and a briefing aiming to secure a future

for visual arts in the UK. The Crafts Council is supporting the five goals which include the need for policies and guidance on paying artists.

Boost to creative learning in Wales

A new partnership between the Welsh Government and the Arts Council of Wales is supporting arts and creativity in the school curriculum. A total of £20m will be available over five years from both organisations. Creative learning through the arts –  an action plan for Wales sets out how learning about the arts and culture, participating in the arts and developing creative skills should be prominent in the education of all children and young people. The plan focusses on improving attainment through creativity, increasing opportunities and supporting teachers and arts practitioners. It follows Successful Futures, a comprehensive, independent review of the curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales which recommended four purposes for the curriculum, that include helping young people to become enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work. Let’s hear it for Wales!

Creative Partnerships’ success

A critical review of the research generated by the ‘Creative Partnerships’ programme has concluded that it produced “modest gains in learning” and “considerable benefits” for the wellbeing of young people. The programme ran in schools in England from 2002 to 2011, aiming to transform students’ experiences of school, develop teachers’ classroom approaches and improve school performance.

Demos Commission on Apprenticeships

Demos has published the report of its Commission, that opens with the assertion, “Apprenticeships policy will have succeeded when most parents want their children to consider choosing an apprenticeship…” The report supports the need for all students aged 14–16 to be offered the chance to take a vocational subject alongside academic study.

High-end and designer manufacturing

The British Fashion Council (BFC) alongside UK Fashion and Textiles Association (UKFT), Creative Skillset (CS) and Marks & Spencer (M&S) has launched the High-end & Designer Manufacturing Report. The report suggests a 65% increase in demand for UK made high-end product over the next five years.

High end manufacturing skills are often craft skills.  These three recommendations are particularly relevant to craft and complement the Crafts Council’s calls to action in our education Manifesto for craft and making Our Future is in the Making:

  • Find ways for apprenticeships to work for all, from micro to medium sized businesses with access to grants to support training across the board.
  • Review the development of dedicated high end making apprenticeships.
  • Support skills development on a regional basis around centres of excellence as well as the expansion of training capacity for high end.

Understanding Motivations for Entrepreneurship

Many makers won’t be surprised by the findings in this new BIS Research Paper No. 212 that motivations for starting a business are best classified in terms of the importance attached to ‘autonomy and better work’, ‘challenge’, ‘financial’ and ‘family and legacy’ aspects. Across all business types, entrepreneurs say autonomy is their most important motivator. And businesses created by autonomy- and family-motivated entrepreneurs have a higher chance of survival.

RSA calls for different approach to supporting self-employed people

This report from the RSA considers the 30 percent increase since the turn of the century in the number of people who work for themselves, with the result that one in seven of the workforce are

now self-employed. Even though the RSA acknowledges that the trend is broadly to be welcomed, experience tells us that very few of the newly self-employed will ever take on staff. The report argues for the application of behavioural insights to deepen our understanding of the challenge, advocating, for example, the pooling of risks to practical barriers for self-employed people, shared employees, and higher education careers fairs for small firms to increase supply.

Young digital makers

Nesta’s new report explores the organisations providing opportunities, what happens in school and attitudes towards digital making.

Employment in the digitised economy - essays

IPPR have published a series of essays on employment in a digitised economy. Technology, globalisation and the future of work in Europe highlights the most likely trends in employment across Europe over the next 10 years.

The science and technology sector is growing in London

This paper from the Greater London Authority,  produced by ONS London statisticians, shows that jobs in the south east in the ‘digital technology sub-category’ have increased by 29 per cent.  The London Borough of Camden has the highest proportion of science and technology employees at 32.9 per cent.

New Design Manifesto

The All Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group have published Thinking, Testing, Making A Manifesto for Design. It makes a strong case for design, the fastest-growing creative industry, growing by 34% in five years between 2008 and 2012 and worth over £70bn per year to the UK economy. The manifesto recommendations address industrial strategy; design and public services; infrastructure, housing and the built environment; and education. The manifesto directly supports the Crafts Council’s calls for the removal of the discount codes in the schools’ performance framework which penalise art, craft and design subjects (see Our Future is in the Making – an education manifesto for craft and making).

New report on the ecology of culture

A new report, The Ecology of Culture, examines the interdependencies of publicly funded culture, commercial culture and homemade culture that interact and “shape the demand for and production of arts and cultural offerings”. The report suggests that rather than seeing these interactions as an economy, they are better understood through an ecological approach. The report’s author, John Holden, Visiting Professor at City University, said: “It is more helpful to understand culture in terms of how it is organized, rather than simply stating what it does.” The report was commissioned by the AHRC’s Cultural Value Project.

We’re losing the physical touch from our lives

Gaby Hinsliff laments our declining haptic skills, citing findings from the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science that handwritten student note-takers (compared to those working on laptops) had a stronger conceptual understanding of what they had been told, and could most easily apply that information.

Cultural Threads: transnational textiles today

Edited by Jessica Hemmings, Cultural Threads, explores artists and designers who work at the intersection of multiple cultural influences and use textiles as their vehicle.

Support for London studio space

In an article in the Evening Standard, Munira Mirza, London’s deputy mayor for education and culture, highlights how London is at risk of losing 30 per cent of artists’ studios in the next five years. In response, the Mayor of London has announced £9 million in investment in high streets with a large share intended to benefit creative workspaces and cultural activity by creating over 90,000 square feet of affordable studios.

Taking Part

DCMS reports a 1% decline (77%) in the number of adults who had attended or participated in the arts at least once in 2014 (calendar year), compared to the previous year. This is a similar rate to 2005/06 and a statistically significant decrease since 2012/13 (78%). Since 2005/06, there has been a significant increase in arts engagement in the North East (from 70% to 75%) and in the North West (from 72% to 77%). Engagement in all other regions has remained at a similar rate to 2005/06 and to 2012/13.

Intellectual property advice

The Government has launched a new IP Finance’ toolkit to advise businesses on how to understand and present the value of their Intellectual Property.