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March 2016 Policy Brief

This month we focus on:


DCMS economic estimates methodology consultation

DCMS has launched a consultation to improve what is included in the annual Creative Industries Economic Estimates. The consultation (closing 26 April) includes proposals:

  • to explore estimates for the creative economy (how creative skills contribute to other sectors)
  • to address under coverage of microbusinesses and those who are self-employed, and
  • to include exports of goods.

All of these measures will improve the accuracy of the estimates for craft. We are particularly pleased to see 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 note that the current figures are ‘ likely to be a significant under-estimate of the scale of the true crafts industry’. In responding to the new consultation, we will draw 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.

The Independent Review of Economic Statistics

The independent Bean Review reported recently. The government has fully endorsed the recommendations, including the need for the Office of National Statistics to become more agile in the provision of statistics that properly reflect the changing structure and characteristics of the economy. The DCMS’s intention to gather data on microbusinesses will start to address measurement of the growing number of self-employed workers in the economy.

International culture market

A new report from UNESCO on International flows of cultural goods and services 2004-2013 shows that the UK is the 5th highest exporter of visual arts and crafts in the world in this period ($9.1bn in 2013), after China, the US, India and Switzerland. Visual arts and crafts made up most of the world trade in cultural goods from 2004 to 2013, growing by 185% over this period.

Meanwhile, an annual report on the art market records a 7% fall in global fine art sales to $63.8bn in 2015 (2014: $68.2bn).

How will the Chancellor’s budget 2016 benefit makers and the arts?

  • Two new £1,000 tax-free allowances for property and trading income will micro businesses
  • National Insurance contributions for the self-employed will be simplified and class 2 National Insurance contributions abolished
  • The tax-free allowance will be raised to £11,500 from April 2017
  • A new tax relief (from April 2017) will encourage museums and galleries to develop new exhibitions and display their collections across the country
  • The eligibility criteria for the VAT refund scheme for museums and galleries will be broadened
  • Secondary schools in England will be able to bid for £285m in new funding for extra after-school activities, to include art
  • And the following funding was awarded: £13m to Hull City of Culture, £5m to the Victoria & Albert Museum of Design in Dundee, £14m to the STEAMhouse in Birmingham, £20m for northern cities to host Great Exhibition of the North, £54m to Royal College of Art Battersea campus.

Parliamentary news

  • The new Culture White Paper sets out a vision of culture in action, rejuvenating society as well as local and national economies. A number of new programmes and reviews aim to increase diversity and access to culture, including a Great Place Scheme to pilot making culture a core part of local authority’s plans and policies.
  • The Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport has invited submissions by 22 April to a Countries of Culture inquiry. It will examine the preservation and enhancing of the UK's cultural heritage, looking at funding, funding models, skills and infrastructure across the regions.
  • A new all party parliamentary group has been formed aims to raise the profile of the ceramics industry in Britain, chaired by Ruth Smeeth, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North. This follows a parliamentary debate on the ceramics industry on 7 March (see Column 100WH) which drew on the heritage of the industry and the contribution of well-known makers.
  • A parliamentary debate drew attention to the risk to design & technology education in schools and proposed that the subject be included in the science pillar of the EBacc. And the Crafts Council also contributed to a debate in the same week on D&T hosted by the all parliamentary group on design and innovation.

Understanding the value of arts and culture

This rich new report by Professor Geoffrey Crossick (also Crafts Council chair!) and Dr Patrycja Kaszynska presents how we think about the value of the arts and culture to individuals and society, and the methodologies we can use for capturing cultural value. The AHRC’s three-year project involved 70 original pieces of work to understand the difference made by arts and culture in the ecology of the subsidised cultural sectors, the commercial sector, and amateur and participatory arts and culture. Of particular importance to craft, the project explores (amongst other areas) whether the role of small-scale arts in generating healthy urban communities might be more important for the health of towns than large-scale culture-led regeneration projects.