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Research and Policy Brief April 2019

Our April Research & Policy brief brings you –

Is individuality fundamental to creative development? Exploring how higher education supports creative practice, Lauren England concludes that the focus on individual achievement produces challenges both for graduates and the creative economy. This is one of Lauren’s final blogs from her collaborative PhD with King’s College, London, and the Crafts Council into how higher education supports professional practice development.

More on education and skills

The Education Select Committee is holding an inquiry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the extent to which the UK education system is prepared for it. Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the OECD commented that,

‘In the fourth industrial revolution, art may become more important than maths. We often talk about soft skills as being social and emotional skills, and hard skills as being science and maths, but it might be the opposite. The science and maths might become a lot softer in the future, where the relevance of knowledge evaporates very quickly, whereas the hard skills might be your curiosity, leadership, persistence and resilience.’ (26 February 2019).

The All Party Manufacturing Group have issued a Call for Evidence on the future of the skills system that will investigate further education provision, employer needs, and the implementation of national policy at a local level.

The Royal Shakespeare Company, Tate and the University of Nottingham have examined the benefits of arts and cultural education in secondary and special schools in England over three years. Time to Listen shows new insights into the positive difference that sustained engagement with arts and cultural education has on the lives of young people.

Responding to Ofsted’s consultation on a new inspection framework, ACE has said that ‘no school should be awarded a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ judgement without a strong arts and cultural offer’. The Crafts Council took the same approach in our response, saying ‘schools should only be judged ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted if they can demonstrate excellence in creative and technical teaching’.

Wales’ Creative Learning through the Arts platform gives a voice to pupils, teachers, and artists from across Wales to explore the impact of the programme. A new evaluation shows progress as it enters its final year. Data provided by teachers indicates a general correlation between involvement in the intervention and improvement in pupil performance and attainment.

A study of drawing shows that drawing is a powerful way to boost memory and is superior to activities such as writing because it forces the person to process information in multiple ways. (Note – behind paywall.)

Economic Value

New reports from Arts Council England (ACE) and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) show how arts and culture add £10.8 billion to the economy, employing almost 400,000 people in the UK. (The Creative Industries Council values the creative industries at £91.8bn.)

Local government funding for culture is a lower budget priority in the UK than in most other countries in Europe according to a new European Union study. The report shows that total local authority spending in the UK is dwindling and made up only 0.1% of the country’s GDP in 2017.

By contrast, evidence from Thanet District Council to a House of Lords Select Committee report on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities, revealed “84% growth in creative businesses in the area between 2013 and 2016, following the long-term programme ‘Margate Arts, Creativity and Heritage’” (see paragraph 96).

Nesta have identified four key ingredients that creative businesses, hubs or ecosystems need to thrive, describing how policymakers can support an environment for them to survive.


Ed Vaizey MP, the former Arts Minister, is to chair The Creative Diversity All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), a new cross-party group of MPs who will “identify and tackle obstacles to diversity in the creative sector”. (The Crafts Council has recently updated our overview of work on diversity on the Creative Industries Council website.)

Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, has announced a review aimed at reforming the way in which research councils promote new methods of innovation and blue-sky thinking.