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Policy Brief October 2017

Signposts to research findings and policy news:

Education, skills and the economy

Lauren England’s latest findings in Crafting professional practice through Higher Education, a collaborative PhD between King’s College London and the Crafts Council, reveal a need to talk with students explicitly about creative practice as a business and to address the relationship between creative practice and making money.

In light of fears about robots taking jobs in the future, Nesta has investigated what skills will increase in importance. Creative, digital, design and engineering occupations ‘generally have a bright outlook’. The report, The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030, highlights ‘the return of artisanal employment’, including carpentry, textiles and ceramics ‘incorporating elements of craft-based technical skill which are higher-end – and more expensive – than in the past. Workers also draw on deep cultural knowledge about what makes a good or service ‘authentic’ and are able to communicate these values of ‘good’ taste to consumers.’ ‘Artistic, Literary and Media Occupations’ feature in a list of occupations that are most likely to show increased demand in the future – see Table 6 on page 49.

Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted, has raised concerns about access to a broad curriculum for lower attaining pupils in a new commentary published by Ofsted. ‘Access to other national curriculum subjects, such as arts and some EBacc subjects like modern foreign languages, was often restricted. Indeed, in a few of the schools visited, lower-attaining pupils did not have any opportunity to study a language or some arts subjects, as the school directed them onto a pathway that excluded the subject as an option, in some cases from the age of 12.’

The Creative Industries Federation’s Global Talent Report outlines the crucial role of international talent to the UK’s creative industries and makes recommendations on how future immigration systems for both EU and non-EU workers can best support the creative industries.

An international study places Britain as the fourth most micro-business dense country in the world. The Global Micro-Business Impact Report investigates the impact micro-businesses have on the global economy. Whilst the UK ranks highly in entrepreneurship, micro-businesses contribute less to Gross Value Added (GVA) and employment compared to other countries. 96% of UK businesses are classified as micro.( The Crafts Council regularly highlights the needs of micro-businesses, typical of craft, in its work with partners and government departments.)

Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed the desire to see the UK remain part of European cultural programmes following Brexit. She made a commitment to continue working in ways “that promote the long-term economic development of the continent”.

The Business Energy and Innovation Select Committee have announced their new membership, with MP for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves, as Chair. The committee recently announced a new inquiry into how Brexit will affect UK business.

A new lobbying body called Fashion Roundtable has been formed to try to influence the UK government during Brexit talks.

Arts and health

MPs have called upon Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to help create a culture change in Government towards arts and health. At a Westminster Hall debate on the effect of the arts on health, Arts Minister John Glen agreed that more engagement was needed from the department to help realise the potential of the arts to support health and wellbeing.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has published a new report highlighting the role the sector can play in helping to address mental health issues.

The Arts Council of Wales has made a three-year deal with the Welsh NHS Confederation to promote the benefit of arts and culture to health and wellbeing.

A new guide aims to encourage people in the arts and health services to work together to prevent illness and improve wellbeing. The Art of the Possible is aimed at local authorities, clinical commissioning groups, NHS hospital trusts and other health bodies.

The role of arts organisations

A paper by Hadley and Grey in Cultural Trends explores ‘hyperinstrumentalisation’ and how much of cultural policy is concerned with the ends in, for example, health, wellbeing, education, economic impact and tourism.

A study of the Characteristics of Civically Engaged Nonprofit Arts Organizations finds that such organisations have ‘diverse networks, recognize civic engagement as the industry norm, and are consciously aware of their nonprofit status’.


The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive has launched a new monthly newsletter covering the radical history of disability arts.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is conducting a review (survey now closed) into the supply of artist workspace to understand how supply and demand has shifted since an equivalent piece of research was conducted in 2014. The study explores details of premises, activity, rates, tenure, challenges and future support measures. (The Crafts Council highlighted the survey on social media and will give details of findings.)

Arts Council England has released its fourth year of research tracking the use and impact of tech among arts organisations. The Visual Arts factsheets confirms that in comparison to other art and cultural forms, Visual Arts organisations are the most digitally diverse, averaging more types of digital activity than any other artform.

Arts Professional’s latest Pulse survey finds that 69% of arts workers believe grassroots arts activity is suffering the most as budgets tighten in local authorities.