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  • Carved Wall Piece, Lanty Ball

Policy Brief May 2017

This month:

Elections news

The Crafts Council believes that the conditions for craft participation and the craft economy would be improved with:

  • An education and skills strategy that addresses the decline in craft education (see our report Studying Craft 16) and promotes the ‘fused' education agenda by developing students’ creative talents alongside their scientific and technological skills (see Innovation through Craft: opportunities for growth)
  • Investment and support that is specifically targeted at creative microbusinesses.

These are the three major parties’ manifesto promises on culture and on education:

The Conservatives are committed to the creative industries as one of five key industrial sectors. The party will:

  • create a new Cultural Development Fund
  • seek IP protections in Brexit negotiations
  • increase support for arts based outside London
  • introduce rights and protections in the ‘gig’ economy
  • introduce new T-levels in creative subjects
  • build on the existing tax credits scheme.

Labour’s manifesto commits to:

  • put the UK’s creative sector at the heart of Brexit negotiations and future industrial strategy
  • invest in creative enterprise zones and launch a £1bn capital fund for creative clusters
  • review the EBacc performance measure
  • create an arts pupil premium for primary schools in England
  • launch a nationwide creative careers campaign in schools.

The Lib Dems will:

  • support growth in the creative industries
  • maintain availability of arts subjects in the curriculum
  • extend apprenticeships to the sector
  • tailor industry-specific tax support
  • address barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.

All the main parties support maintaining free entry to national museums/galleries.

The Creative Industries Federation has identified ten priority recommendations to enable the creative industries, arts and cultural education to thrive in its general election manifesto for the creative industries.

The Museums Association calls for the next government to commit to working with local authorities to sustain their funding for museums.

The Cultural Learning Alliance calls for Ofsted inspections to be required to recognise and comment on the quality of arts and cultural learning in their reports.

The Heritage Alliance notes in its manifesto that the current government apprenticeship programmes tend to favour larger industries and wants to see more attention to niche apprenticeships often needed in the heritage sector.

Tax relief for museums and galleries deferred to next parliament

The new relief, which would have allowed galleries and museums to claim up to £100k back on new temporary, touring or permanent exhibitions, has been removed from the Finance Bill to allow the legislation to pass through parliament before the election.

Lords debate Ebacc and arts subjects

Some witnesses to a House of Lords inquiry felt that changes, specifically the introduction of the EBacc with its emphasis on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), has had a detrimental effect on the status of arts subjects in state schools. The Communications Committee has published a summary of evidence given to its inquiry into Skills for theatre: Developing the pipeline of talent, which could not complete its work once the election was called. 

New Metro mayors

On 4th May ‘metro mayors’ were elected in six areas as part of the Government’s devolution agenda. Metro mayors will have a variety of powers over areas including housing, transport and skills. They are also responsible for establishing a strategy to grow their region’s economy. Each metro mayor will receive an adult skills budget, power to award apprenticeships grants for employers and control over the post-16 further education system. The new mayors are:

Andy Burnham (Lab) – Greater Manchester

Andy Street (Con) – West Midlands

Steve Rotheram (Lab) – Liverpool City Region

Tim Bowles (Con) – West of England

James Palmer (Con) – Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

Ben Houchen (Con) – Tees Valley

New research on craft businesses

Craft Scotland has published a State of the Sector report. Based on our earlier survey in partnership Craft in an Age of Change, the findings show that:

  • A third of respondents had been in business for under 5 years, suggesting a buoyant stream of newcomers
  • 36% were selling through social media channels compared to 5% in Craft in an Age of Change
  • 54% of makers were exporting in 2015/16, compared to 27.4% in 2010 (with 76% of those makers reporting that export is under 25% of total sales
  • 41.4% are making less than £10k compared to 72.5% in the earlier survey (but Craft Scotland attribute this fall to the nature of the sample)
  • 62.6% of income comes from non-craft activity compared to 49.3%.

The Cockpit Effect Report charts the growth and development of craft businesses at Cockpit Arts. The findings show that average turnover rose by 14% between 2013/14 and 2014/15 and at £58,099 for 2014/15 is nearly double that reported in 2010. 54% of Cockpit makers either employ freelancers or outsource part or all of their production, with 27% taking on interns and 8% offering places to apprentices.

The Heritage Crafts Association has published The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts. The report identifies those crafts most at risk of disappearing.

New research on culture

World cities culture report examines how much is spent on culture and gives an overview of how culture is supported. Culture spending in London is the third highest in the world, when compared to sixteen other cities. It shows that over one-third of all public direct culture funding is provided by local government but indirect public funding, including tax breaks and fiscal incentives, is growing in importance.

A European research project into audience development practices has issued a set of recommendations and guides for cultural organisations, encouraging them to work more with schools and calling for better analysis of the impact of new approaches to audience development.

Cultural institutions across Europe should prioritise funding for cultural and artistic projects for the integration of refugees and make their recruitment practices more open to people from different backgrounds. A report from the EU member states’ experts on intercultural dialogue finds that participatory arts practices are seen as particularly conducive to integrating refugees and migrants.

New research on creative jobs

Nesta has published a data visualisation on creative skills, based on research that aims to identify the skills used by workers in creative occupations. Using job adverts to identify the skills needs of creative talent, the graphic shows five key cluster areas of skills (and notes that craft-related occupations are less likely than others to advertise online due to high levels of self-employment, so have been excluded from the study).

IPPR reports on The inbetweeners: The new role of internships in the graduate labour market. It finds that the decline in the proportion of graduates entering high-skilled work has led to a rise in internships, offering interns experience in the workplace and employers a cheap form of labour. Of the nineteen sectors analysed, arts, entertainment and recreation has the third highest concentration of internships relative to other vacancies.


The American Craft Council has launched a new biannual journal, American Craft Inquiry, featuring in-depth essays on contemporary and historical issues, exhibition reviews, and a detailed look at items from their archives.