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  • 'Shimmer' Custom-Dyed and Handwoven Rug, Jacqueline James Handwoven Rugs. Photo: Mick Hartley

November 2016 Policy Brief

November policy brief

Lots about money this month –



In his autumn statement, the Chancellor announced funding that includes the following -

  • A museums and galleries tax relief for permanent, temporary and touring exhibitions. (The Crafts Council proposed a broad definition of ‘exhibition’ in its response to the consultation. The original proposal did not include permanent exhibitions.) The rates of relief will be set at 20% for non-touring exhibitions and 25% for touring exhibitions, capped at £500,000 of qualifying expenditure per exhibition.
  • An extra £1.8bn for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) through a third round of Growth Deals. This funding for local infrastructure will include money to boost skills and enhance digital connectivity.
  • £400m in venture capital funds from the British Business Bank for new investment in innovative firms planning to scale up. (Nesta have blogged about how there is an opportunity here to encourage greater alignment of research and innovation funding.)
  • £850,000 for a Royal Society of the Arts pilot to promote cultural education in schools; £7.6m for urgent repairs to Grade I listed Wentworth Woodhouse country house near Rotherham; £1m for a new creative media centre in Plymouth; £1.6m for the new Studio 144 arts complex in Southampton.
  • Additional support through UK Export Finance for UK exports.
  • The Government’s departmental spending plans remain unchanged.

The Government is also to review the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) with the aim of helping small businesses access support for innovation and new technologies. The Crafts Council has written to the lead business minister, Greg Clark, to recommend that the review explicitly addresses the needs of micro-businesses, typical of the craft sector and the creative industries.

Meanwhile, Shadow culture secretary, Tom Watson MP, will examine the impact of austerity on the arts in Britain, scrutinising how cuts to councils are affecting communities. Communities for Culture will be jointly led with Cllr Simon Henig of Durham County Council, vice chair of culture, tourism and sport for the Local Government Association.

Arts Development UK estimates that local councils are expected to spend 13% less on arts services this year than in 2015/16 as they struggle to cope with cuts from central government. Half of responding councils said their arts service was facing a funding decrease in 2016/17, and a further 21% recorded standstill funding.

The Government consulted recently on proposals to digitise tax returns. Former Craft Council exhibitor Catherine Bertola considers the potential impact of a more real-time service for the self-employed, raising concerns that the new system might not lend itself to erratic income streams.

Let’s hear it for textile crafts!

The latest figures from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (the Taking Part ‘Focus on art forms’ report – see page 5) show that textile crafts (embroidery, crocheting, knitting) are once again the most popular art form.

Creative education in schools

Prompted by the recent announcements (highlighted in our October policy brief) of the loss of history of art and archaeology A level qualifications, the House of Lords held a debate on A levels in creative subjects. The debate addressed trends in creative education, the impact of school performance frameworks and the need to protect pipeline of talent to the creative industries.

A survey of secondary school teachers in England, commissioned by the National Union of Teachers, shows that teachers feel that the EBacc has narrowed the Key Stage 4 curriculum offer in their schools.

We also note the Design Week report that Falmouth University is temporarily suspending its Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. Studying Craft 16, the most recent findings in our time series data of trends in craft education and training, highlights the 70% decline in undergraduate crafts courses (excluding BAs and foundation degrees) between 2007/08 and 20015/16 (see tab S6 of our data workbook).

Cultural value

Following publication earlier this year of the AHRC’s Cultural Value Project Report, a new collaborative scoping project will explore how research and analysis into cultural value can be best sustained and supported into the future.

Researchers from four universities are embarking on a new collaborative project to strengthen the creative and cultural economy in South West England and South East Wales. The GW4 Alliance (the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter) project, ‘Bridging the Gap’, will encourage collaboration between universities, cultural organisations and local authorities.

Bristol and Bath by Design shines a spotlight on the economic and cultural value of the area’s design-led sector. The report reveals higher than average turnover in businesses supported by networked co-creation.

EU ministers have discussed how member states can cooperate effectively to bring about 'a more strategic and global approach' to international cultural relations in the approach to the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage.


Looking at the arts and culture sector in a global context, Arts Council England’s International activity of arts and cultural organisations, examines the scale and impact of National Portfolio Organisations’ international activity. 65% of NPOs worked internationally, generating £34m in 2014/15. The Crafts Council’s international programme includes our partnership supporting Nature Lab, first shown at Design Miami/Basel and going to Korea’s Craft Trend Fair in Seoul in December, and our stands at Design Days Dubai 2017, for which our call out for makers has just closed.

The arts and culture sector and exit from the European Union presents Arts Council England’s consultation feedback and other evidence on how leaving the EU might affect organisations and artists across the country.

And lastly,

Craft community businesses continue to grow at a slow but steady rate. (A community business is one which is accountable to the local community.) A new report highlights how they require capital finance for buildings, warehouses and studio spaces to grow operations from small to medium size (see page 56).