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  • Car Fossil [detail], part of the Cabinet of Anthropogenic Specimens by Crafts Council Maker Yesenia Thibault-Picazo.

Research and Policy Brief July 2018

July highlights –

Using digital technology to understand and support diversity in craft practice

Karen Patel blogs about some of the hot topics of workshopping social media practice with a group of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Women. The workshop is the next stage in Karen’s collaborative post-doctoral research with the Crafts Council.

Crafting professional practice through higher education

Lauren England blogs about the double whammy for craft higher education of falling student numbers and threats to the value of craft courses, drawing on a new research paper ‘A pipeline problem: exploring policy disconnects in craft higher education’. Lauren also blogs about the analysis stage of her collaborative PhD with the Crafts Council on professional practice development.

Education and training

Ofsted's Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, has announced that Ofsted will be undertaking research on art in secondary schools  during 2018-19 and will be publishing a report with a system-wide view. She also mentioned plans for a new Ofsted inspection framework to be published in 2019 that will be an ‘evolution not a revolution’ and promised a consultation on the proposals ‘shortly’.

A Department for Education funded study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows graduate earnings by subject, university, and gender with creative arts subjects at the lower end of the earnings scale.

An analysis by Arts Professional shows that the number of arts subject teachers working in secondary schools in England has fallen by 9,000 since 2011 – a fall of almost a quarter (22%). Arts teacher numbers have collapsed at twice the rate of overall teacher numbers. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of teachers of all subjects in secondary schools fell by 9%. Figures published by the Department for Education (DfE) show that the number of art and design teachers has fallen by 2,100 (15%) from its level of 13,900 in 2011. DfE figures also show that teachers in England spent 66,000 fewer hours teaching arts subjects in 2017 than in 2011 – a 17% reduction in arts teaching time.

Business and the economy

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Economic Estimates show that the number of jobs in the creative industries grew by 28.6% between 2011 to 2017, compared to the UK-wide average growth of 9.3% across all jobs in the same period and a 15% growth across all DCMS sectors. Crafts employment is shown to have grown from 7,000 to 10,000 between 2016 and 2017. However, DCMS only measures part of the craft sector (jewellery). By contrast the Craft Council’s 2016 figures in Who Makes? An Analysis of People Working in Craft Occupations show craft employs 129,000 people.

Analysis of businesses’ skills gaps by Creative & Cultural Skills shows that generic, transferable business skills gaps and shortages are more common than gaps and shortages in specialist creative skills,. However, there is concern over the future sustainability of ‘master crafts’ as experienced workers age and leave the sector.

Creative organisations are hungry for different types of finance, but remain more dependent than the average small or medium-sized enterprise on informal finance from family and friends, according to Creative Industries Council research. Ambitions for growth among creative businesses are being held back by a lack of financing opportunities.

The number of design businesses has grown by 63% since 2010 and design is making an important contribution to UK innovation and productivity. The Design Economy shows businesses have grown by 52% since 2009.

England’s local authorities’ culture budgets have fallen by 2.2% over last year, according to Arts Professional analysis. Budgets have fallen by around £48m over the past five years. However, some councils are balancing their budgets with raised income.

Social Prescribing

Matt Hancock, now the new Health Secretary, has announced £4.5m for social prescribing to enable GPs to refer more patients to social activities and other types of support to improve health and wellbeing. The Crafts Council is promoting Craft Clubs activities as suitable for social prescribing.

European support

Two new reports reveal the significant monetary and non-monetary impact the European Union support programme Creative Europe has had in the UK, including the programme’s powerful effect on building international networks, growing audiences and generating jobs and skills. The Creative Industries Federation has welcomed the UK Government’s decision to seek a culture and education accord with the EU, noting that continued participation in such programmes, ease of movement for creative services and touring, mutual recognition of qualifications and tariff-free movement of goods are vital for the creative industries.


The Scottish Government has published its draft cultural strategy for consultation, covering topics including culture’s relationship to issues from technology to poverty, low income, climate change and economic planning. Meanwhile, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) is consulting on a new five-year strategic plan, to run from 2019 until 2024. The draft plan considers access to arts is a social justice issue. The previous strategic plan was due to last until 2018, but the period it covers has been extended to include 2018/19 due to the absence of an executive government in Northern Ireland.

Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth, a British Council report, presents a pioneering approach to inclusive growth that sees the social and economic benefits of cultural heritage for all levels of society. It advocates for a way of working that is wide reaching and mutual, building trust and connections between the UK and overseas.