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  • Plume [detail], Jenny Llewellyn Crafts Council Directory Maker

Policy Brief September 2017

A bumper issue for September, focusing on:

The creative and craft economy

The Government has published the Independent Review of the Creative Industries, intended to support the growth of the creative industries (CIs). Sir Peter Bazalgette’s review follows the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper earlier this year. A White Paper is to be launched later in the autumn.

The main messages are:

  • Growth - the CIs can solve problems for other significant parts of the economy - if government can get the leadership, financial, advisory and skills support right.
  • Innovation - direct investment into Research and Development (R&D) projects in the CIs is too low. Methods for measuring and evaluating the value of R&D in the arts, humanities and social sciences should be devised.
  • Access to finance - some creative micro-enterprises and SMEs are disadvantaged when seeking growth capital. A ‘ladder of growth’ is needed for businesses of different sizes. Investment from the British Business Bank into the CIs should be increased.
  • Talent –
  1. An ‘attraction strategy’ is needed to inform about careers in the CIs.
  2. Industry and universities should work with clusters on a modular ‘Creative Leaders’ scheme to cultivate a network of highly skilled cluster leaders who can signpost business support and investment.
  3. There should be a national 3-year pilot of modifications to the Apprenticeship Levy.
  4. The report makes no mention of creative education in schools, but calls for the network of Saturday Clubs (13-16 year olds) should be expanded from 50 to 250.
  • Intellectual Property – a work programme should map barriers and address market failures.
  • International – a new International Trade Board is needed for the CIs.

The Creative Industries Council is looking to reach agreement with Government on a Sector Deal for joint support to the CIs. The Government has also launched the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, an £80m competition for R&D partnerships. Led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), it will drive forward collaboration between the creative industries and universities in eight creative clusters across the UK. The Crafts Council is in discussion with several universities about partnership proposals to the Clusters Programme.

The Government has published Collaboration on science and innovation: a future partnership paper. The paper outlines how continued collaboration in science and innovation is an important part of the UK’s future partnership with the EU.

New government employment figures show that the creative industries continue to flourish, growing at four times the rate of the workforce as a whole. Two million more people now work in the sector, up 5% on the previous year. 15% more people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds work in the sector compared to 2015: this includes a jump of 40% in film and 50% in fashion. Growth in employment in craft is given as 0.8%, but the craft figures are not based on full sets of data.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has produced a note (see p10 onwards) on the performance of the creative industries, including craft, in London.  In 2015 the gross value added (GVA) of the creative industries in London was estimated at £42bn, 11.1 per cent of London’s total GVA. The creative economy now makes up around 16.9 per cent of all jobs in the capital, compared to 7.9 per cent of jobs in the rest of the UK. Craft GVA is £82m, one third of the GLA’s estimated national total for craft of £254m.

Research published by the Creative Industries Federation shows that nearly half of the creative workers in the creative industries (47&%) are freelance, compared with 15 per cent across the workforce as a whole.

Creative education

The difficulties of developing an arts career are revealed in in Creative Scotland’s summary report, Understanding Diversity in the Arts Survey. The findings indicate that career progression in the arts is far from a level playing field and some groups face real and significant barriers to career progression in the sector. The most prominent theme is economic challenges which are particularly pertinent for those who are primarily artists and those who are freelance. The data reveals income levels which are well below national averages despite high levels of education.

Following an article in the Sunday Times, the Chancellor has suggested that when cutting the annual university tuition fee, the extra £1,500 annual top-up payment might only be available to students taking science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses. The proposal ignores the fact creative subjects are also drivers for Britain’s creative industries, which turn over more than our automotive, life science, oil and gas and aerospace sectors combined. The Crafts Council was a signatory to a joint letter opposing such a move.

Entries to arts subjects at Key Stage 4 have declined over the past couple of years and are the lowest of the last decade, taking into account variation in cohort size. The research by the Education Policy Institute echoes the findings of a new study from the Higher Education Policy Institute by Norwich University of the Arts, which concludes that the UK’s pipeline of creative talent is fracturing because Art, Media and Design are being downgraded in schools.

A House of Lords debate noted the recently released figures showing a drop in the take up of creative subjects. Baroness Stedman-Scott called the debate to draw attention to the impact of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) on the take-up of creative and technical subjects, and to call for a broadening of the curriculum. Baroness Garden of Frognal noted that, “the country faces an acute skills shortage, in craft and creative as well as technical skills” (column 2600) and others raised concerns that the EBacc does not reflect industry needs or offer a well-rounded learning framework.

The All Party Design and Innovation Group (APDIG) and the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design (CHEAD) have launched a plan setting out how creative education can play a major role in the economy after Brexit and guarantee the creative skills pipeline. It urges higher education to work with business to attract the best overseas talent and stresses the need for continuity to ensure collaborations, existing partnerships, funding and international trade standards thrive. The Crafts Council was a partner.

John Glen, Minister for Culture has published a blog about his first one hundred days in the post, saying, “I want to tackle cultural cold spots across the country, and to increase engagement across our cultural sectors with young people. Encouraging young people to get involved in creative subjects, through taking GCSEs or in their spare time using connections and courses from our national institutions, is vital in helping them gain a good grounding to pursue careers in this area, but I also want to capture their interest in careers within this industry outside of academia too.”

The impact of creativity and culture

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW) have recognised the powerful contribution the arts can make to our health and wellbeing. The inquiry report cites the example of Parallel Practices, the Crafts Council’s collaboration which explored the mutual benefits of makers and medical or scientific academics working together (p114).

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) explores the role of culture, sport and heritage assets, and investment in driving positive economic and social outcomes at the local level in The role of culture, sport and heritage in place shaping. Part of the Culture and Sport Evidence (CASE) programme, the new report states that ‘the existence of cultural and heritage assets creates direct commercial opportunity for creative firms, but also adds to the wider amenity value of a place'.

New insights from Understanding Society, the UK household longitudinal study, show that people who engage with the arts are more likely to be charitable donors and volunteers. The findings show that arts engagement can act as a catalyst that fosters social co-operation and bridges divisions in society. The authors conclude that substantial social and economic gains can flow when arts investment is targeted at making cultural opportunities more widely available.

The European Parliament's culture committee has approved a resolution on EU strategy for international cultural relations, noting that culture is a powerful bridge between people, helps to strengthen civil society, to prevent radicalisation and conflicts, and to disseminate EU values. It has called for greater support and an acknowledgement of culture as an essential part of EU political dialogue with non-EU countries.

The European CultureBase project has published a Roadmap for Cultural Heritage and European Identities through Cultural Memory, Cultural Inclusion and Cultural Creativity. The report explores the potential of culture as an area of public policy that can foster a sense of belonging and provide new avenues for social innovation and socio-economic development. It concludes that cultural rights and human rights policies and debates need to be further cross-fertilised to combat cultural hierarchies both within and outside Europe.

A virtual special issue of Cultural Trends highlights nearly 30 years’ worth of articles about the creative industries, anticipating the first annual special issue on the creative industries to be published in 2018.  Articles focus on the sector’s commercial potential and themes include the impacts of changing technologies, the arts in schools and the labour force. 

Resources to support culture

Arts Council England and the Local Government Association have developed The Culture Hub: good practice in cultural services, highlighting interesting and innovative case studies from local authorities across the country that have found creative ways to invest in arts and culture. 

A three-year evaluation has commended the Arts Council England programme Creative People and Places as a source of learning for community arts, but raised concerns about its long-term sustainability.

The first edition of the European Commission’s Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor shows how well 168 selected cities in 30 European countries perform on a range of measures describing the ‘Cultural Vibrancy’, the ‘Creative Economy’ and the ‘Enabling Environment’ of a city.

The Clore Leadership Programme’s Independent Strategic Review of Governance in Arts Organisations and Museums reveals significant good practice across the sector but concludes that greater agility and fresh thinking is needed at board level and trustees need to make choices between stewardship and entrepreneurship.

A Welsh Assembly inquiry is examining how arts organisations can increase earned income, philanthropy and investment.

Crowdfunding - Reshaping the crowd’s engagement in culture is a response to the increasing role crowdfunding plays for the European cultural and creative sector. The study maps and analyses how crowdfunding is currently being used by the sector.


Damian Collins, Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe has been reappointed as chair of the Department for DCMS select committee.