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  • Autumn Throw [detail] by Crafts Council Maker Laura's Loom. Photo: Laura Rosenweig

Research and Policy Brief January 2019

We’ve a bumper edition for you to welcome in the new year –


More people in England are engaging in craft every year. DCMS figures requested by the Crafts Council show that amateur (or everyday) craft participation in England has grown by nearly 22%, from 19.7% of people responding to the Government’s Taking Part survey in 2014/15 to 24% in 2017/18.

The number of white participants has increased by 20% (to 25.1%)  since 2014/15 and the number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people engaging in craft has gone up by a massive 70.3% since 2014/15 (to 17.2%), with interest growing at a much faster rate.


Arts Council England’s Brexit guide signposts Government policy including:

  • EU funding for research projects
  • EU citizens’ rights in the UK for organisations employing EU nationals
  • implications of the movement of goods for works of art and equipment across borders
  • the likely effects on copyright and intellectual property rights.


New research on the effects of creativity on social and behavioural adjustment in 7- to 11-year-old children shows that children who engage with creative activities such as crafts, painting, drawing, free writing, telling a story, drama are less likely to develop symptoms of social and/or behavioural maladjustment – such as depression, anxiety, withdrawal, restlessness or behavioural instability - at the onset of adolescence.

A new Fabian Society report Primary Colours reveals that two thirds (68%) of primary school teachers in England say there is less arts education now than in 2010, and half (49%) say the quality of what there is has got worse. Recommendations include proposals for a £150m ring-fenced funding for the arts in schools and greater emphasis on the arts in the national curriculum.

A new research project led by De Montfort University and Arts Council England is to follow children born in Leicester over the first 25 years of their lives to see what happens when they are given regular opportunities to get involved in creative activities. Talent25 aims to provide academic evidence of the impact that sustained arts experiences has from birth to adulthood.

Nesta’s report Opportunity Lost explores how exposure to innovation in childhood can shape the inventive potential of a population. The report recommends that the school curriculum should support young people’s invention skills and promote exposure to innovation.

The House of Lords debated what steps the Government is taking to encourage the teaching of art and design in schools, exploring teaching, inspection and participation. GCSE figures show there was a 57% decrease in student numbers between 2010 and 2018.

Ofsted has published a new draft education inspection framework. It’s intended to rebalance inspection ‘to look rather more closely at the substance of education: what is taught and how it is taught, with test and exam outcomes looked at in that context, not in isolation’ and to ‘restore curriculum – largely ‘missing in action’ from inspection for more than a decade – to its proper place, as an important component of the quality of education.’ The Crafts Council will be responding to draw attention to the importance of creative education.

The Government is investing £14 million in the Creative Careers Programme as part of the Creative Industries Sector Deal. The programme, in which the Crafts Council is a partner, is a first step towards attracting more diverse talent into the UK’s creative industries. DCMS economic estimates show that the cultural sector generated £29.5bn in 2017 – a 7.2% increase on the £27.5bn the previous year. The wider creative industries are now worth over £100bn.

Blogging about her PhD findings about student experience of higher education professional practice development, Lauren England reflects that ‘completing a degree is not enough to make you a ‘professional’’. As Lauren nears completion of her partnership PhD with the Crafts Council, she raises questions around how realistic the demand for professional preparation is from a university education.

Onward think tank argues for a new graduate tax cut and a reduction in ‘low value’ university degrees, including some creative arts degrees. The new report has been criticised for suggesting such courses are poor value for money for taxpayers, just on the basis that they offer low earnings potential.

The new T Level qualification will be available from 2022/23, offering students who do not want to take A Levels a choice between pathways in craft, production and cultural heritage.

Craft enterprise

Growing the UK’s Creative Industries, a new report from the Creative Industries Federation (on which the Crafts Council was consulted), highlights how one in eight UK enterprises are creative enterprises, collectively responsible for generating £101.5 billion gross value added (GVA) to the economy.  As well as including a craft case study, the report recognises that the sustainable enterprise growth typical of craft businesses is also vital to the growth of the UK economy.

The report describes how the majority of creative enterprises employ fewer than 10 people and over a third of the sector’s workforce is self-employed. Many stressed that their growth did not always follow a linear trajectory, having experienced fluctuations in their income depending on the particular project that they had been commissioned to deliver.

The Artists Livelihoods report is full of findings about craft and makers. The Crafts Council contributed to the steering group. Findings include:

  • The mean average total income for artists across the UK in 2015 was £16,500 and for makers is £16,300; but the mean income just from craft is £8,120 (50%), more than for fine art(s), multi-discipline and moving image.
  • Personal wellbeing or enjoyment was considered more important by disabled artists (46%) than non-disabled artists (37%). Out of all the artforms, artists practicing ceramics (55%) or [other] crafts (46%) were more likely to select this factor.
  • Those practising crafts are less likely to rent a studio or workspace (36% cf. 45%) and less likely to incur costs of travel/accommodation (52% cf. 60%).


The Government’s new NHS Long Term Plan makes a commitment to social prescribing – a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services, including arts-based interventions.  Over 1,000 trained social prescribing link workers in primary care networks will work with people to develop tailored plans and connect them to local groups and support services. By the end of 2020/21 the aim is that over 900,000 people are referred to social prescribing schemes.

Findings from an Art Fund report, Calm and Collected suggest that young people in Britain are using museums and galleries to de-stress. Findings showed 65% of young people who had recently suffered from anxiety "were twice as likely as others to use monthly art visits to calm down."


The European Commission has published a European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage, following the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. The five pillars for action include ‘Cultural heritage for a sustainable Europe: smart solutions for a cohesive and sustainable future’.

A new culture strategy for London outlines plans to increase access to the arts and ensure the city is renowned for its culture internationally. Measures include delivering two London Boroughs of Culture in 2019 and 2020, funding Cultural Impact Awards for exemplary projects, establishing a micro-grants programme and new Creative Enterprise Zones: Lambeth, Hounslow, Lewisham, Haringey, Croydon, and a joint bid between Tower Hamlets, Hackney and the London Legacy Development Corporation will share £11m fund to nurture their creative communities.