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Home // What We Do // Policy Brief January 2018
  • Detail of stitching, 'A Couple on the Tube' by Crafts Council Directory maker Julie Heaton

Policy Brief January 2018

In our January policy brief:


New Crafts Council research

The Crafts Council’s latest research report, Supporting makers to export, explores how UK makers working in a range of disciplines are exporting internationally. We are keen to strengthen makers’ export capability and to gain insight into craft exports before trade relations and laws change following Brexit. This small (non-scientific) survey of makers’ needs identifies some of the barriers to exporting and shows that a quarter of respondents’ sales are from international work. The report will inform our programming to support makers’ professional development.

Our latest research partnership with Birmingham City University and the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership explores how social media could be used to support diversity in craft practice. Karen Patel, our post-doctoral researcher, blogs about the start of the project and invites participation in the research.

And Lauren England continues her blog about professional practice development, reflecting on staff and student interviewees’ perception of craft and reasons for studying it in higher education. The blog draws on Lauren’s collaborative PhD with King’s College London and the Crafts Council and invites recent graduates to volunteer for interviews.

The economy

The Museums and Galleries Exhibition tax relief is now law and the tax relief can be claimed for up to £500k, backdated to April 2017.

Designing a Future Economy shows that workers with design skills contribute more than £209 billion to the UK economy and that people who use design skills are 47% more productive than the average UK worker.

Drapers (online) report that average production in the UK textile manufacturing industry was up 25% this year, despite looming economic uncertainty.

The Mendoza Review of museums in England makes recommendations about how bodies could be more joined up and how museums are changing business models as public funding reduces in real terms.

John Newbigin explores how the creative industries and the creative economy have changed in the last 20 years in an article for the British Council on the creative economy.


The Government has published ‘sector reports’, including an analysis of the impact of leaving the EU on the Creative Industries. The report describes how trade is facilitated between countries and highlights how the creative industries are characterised by a large number of very small enterprises with 89% having fewer than five employees, compared with 76% for the UK economy as a whole. It notes that 6.7% of the 2016 workforce were EU nationals and that there were two million jobs in the creative industries. The Government decided not to publish sector views submitted to the Inquiry.

Note that the report only covers ‘manufacture of jewellery and related items’ (an increase in GVA of 40% over the five years 2010 to 2015), rather than the full spectrum of craft industries covered in the Crafts Council’s analysis Measuring the Craft Economy, that reports craft GVA at £3.4bn.

The report also does not analyse nationality or exports. The latest Crafts Council report (above) analyses makers’ exports. We are also in dialogue with DCMS about analysing and publishing export figures for craft.

The Mayor of London’s report on the potential impact of Brexit on London for nine key sectors, including culture and the creative industries, highlights the risk that the UK’s creative sector could lose up to £3.3bn and 27,000 jobs as a result of a no-deal Brexit.

Social impact and value

The House of Commons Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is conducting an Inquiry into the social impact of participation in culture and sport.

A guide from the Common Cause Foundation and Manchester Museum, Discover and Share, recommends that arts organisations adopt more compassionate values – such as social justice and equality – to facilitate a stronger community and aspirations for “learning, tolerance, broadmindedness and the protection of the natural world”.

A paper in Design and Culture, the Design Studies Journal, explores how “culturally significant” designs, products, and practices – such as traditional crafts – are marginalised by the forces of modernisation and globalisation. In Wrestling with Tradition: Revitalizing the Orkney Chair and Other Culturally Significant Crafts the authors propose that social value – central to a traditional craft’s cultural significance – should be used to guide revitalization.

A Kings College London report says that shifting cultural policy to enable people to be creative and make their own culture would be a fairer use of public funds and lead to greater equality. The report, Towards Cultural Democracy, calls for publicly funded arts organisations to become community hubs and empower creative citizens by giving them the freedom to “co-create versions of culture”.

Working with Public Service Commissioners, explains how groups of arts and cultural organisations in five UK cities have built relationships with commissioners and are recognised as partners by leaders in local authorities and health services.

World Cities Culture Forum has produced a handbook for city leaders to help build environmental sustainability into cultural policies and programmes.


Pearson (EdExcel) has called for the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) to be scrapped in the report, Testing the Water: How assessment can underpin, not undermine, great teaching.

The Government’s Careers Strategy sets out its new offer, working closely with careers organisations, careers professionals, schools, colleges, universities and employers.

The AHRC-funded research The Hidden Story: Understanding knowledge exchange partnerships with the creative economy maps how higher education institutions support the creative sector and help to build cultural infrastructure.

Diversity and participation

Arts Council England’s annual report on diversity in its funded organisations found an increase in the diversity of Grants for the Arts recipients, but a significant under-representation of disabled people and those from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Women are also under-represented in some leadership roles.

The UNESCO Global Report 2018, Reshaping Cultural Policies examines how the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has inspired policy change internationally and puts forward policy for rapid change in the digital environment, based on human rights and fundamental freedoms of expression.

The Active Lives Survey on participation in leisure and recreational activities reports that 52.2% of adults (16+) in England attended an event, performance or festival involving creative, artistic, dance, theatrical or music activity in the twelve months before the interview. By comparison, 46.5% had attended a museum or gallery, 35.0% had visited a public library and 34.7% had spent time doing a creative, artistic, theatrical or music activity or a craft.

Respondents were most likely to demonstrate multiple instances of spending time doing a creative activity or craft; 27.3% of adults in England had done so three or more times in the twelve months prior to interview.

New Ministers

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has a new Ministerial team (scroll down on DCMS page) following the Government reshuffle. Matt Hancock is now Secretary of State, Margot James, MP for Stourbridge, is Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries and Michael Ellis, MP for Northampton North, is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism.


NEMO, the network of European museums organisations, has published a report and toolkit on collaboration between creative industries and museums.