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  • Milk Jugs [detail] by Crafts Council Maker Catriona R. MacKenzie (CatMackGlass)

Research and Policy Brief June 2018

Lots this month:

Analysis of Ofqual data by Arts Professional shows that even though there is a welcome rise of 2.2% in entries for Art & Design GCSE between 2014/15, this is set against growth across all GCSEs of 3.4% in the same period and a fall of 42% (86,000) in students taking Design and Technology GCSE. Registrations for 2018 arts A levels fell by almost 13,000 (12.6%) since 2013/14. The data reflect the trends identified in our report, Studying Craft 16. The Crafts Council continues to tackle the weakening of supply in creative education through our advocacy work and our learning and talent development programmes.

Arts Council England (ACE) has outlined its priorities for the next two years, including a renewed focus on building resilience in the sector and ensuring the workforce is diverse. The Corporate Plan acknowledges issues around arts education and raises questions about the extent to which we are successfully developing creativity and creative thinking in our citizens. ACE is tackling these challenges through the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education, and their work with De Montfort University in Leicester on a 25 Year Creative Talent Plan.

An interim report for Wales’ creative learning plan describes how the five-year programme is providing consistency to arts and education collaborations, which previously operated in only a small number of schools.

Creativity and inclusion

Young People’s Cultural Journeys shares rich and robust insight into the lives of digitally native young people, their journeys and attitudes to arts and culture and its place in their lives. Arts Connect, the Bridge Organisation for West Midlands, and Arts Council England explore how to engage young people in the context of their own world-views, needs, motivations, expectations and desired outcomes. The report highlights the fluid identities and interconnected lives of young people and its 16 recommendations include the need to:

  • Embrace young people’s wider perceptions of arts and culture
  • Engage with young people as young as possible
  • Engage family who remain influential throughout young people’s lives.

Cultural Inclusion has launched a Cultural Inclusion Manifesto as a statement of intent to support equal access to cultural and arts opportunities for children and young people with disabilities. It encourages venues and disability organisations to co-produce better and more opportunities for children and young people with disabilities to engage with arts and culture.

The Active Lives Survey shows levels of arts engagement across England’s local authority areas. The data reveal that engagement in a creative, artistic, theatrical or music activity or a craft is at its highest among 16 to 24 years olds (73%), followed by those aged 65 to 74 (72%). Arts Professional has converted the data into maps.

Age UK’s wellbeing research finds that creative and cultural participation is the top-most contributor to wellbeing in older age. For people in the lowest wellbeing group, visiting a public library and crafts were the 2nd and 3rd most popular activities.

The Museums Association has launched Open Up: museums for everyone, accompanied by a guide to increasing the diversity among museum visitors.

The European Commission has adopted a new Agenda for Culture that includes an action plan on Cultural Heritage and measures to strengthen cultural participation, mobility of artists and protection of heritage.

An American network of artists, activists and community leaders has published a guide to Art and Wellbeing: Toward a Culture of Health. The report includes UK examples of good practice and offers a US perspective on challenging health inequalities through culture.

A report from Drexel University finds that a lack of focus around culture and gender inclusiveness in US makerspaces is stunting their promise. “Making Culture,” conducted interviews in around 30 makerspaces across 12 urban regions, analysing cultural aspects of the makerspaces.

Creative economy

The new Cultural Development Fund was announced last week. Towns and cities can bid for up to £7 million - this could be a boost for craft businesses that often cluster at a very local level. We’d love to see some craft bids and are happy to discuss supporting bids. Get in touch at research@craftscouncil.org.uk.

New DCMS trade figures (2016) show the creative industries exported goods worth £27.1 billion in 2016, contributing 8.9% of the value of all UK goods exports. Crafts exports remain the biggest export sub-sector of the creative industries at £4.6bn, representing 1.5% of all UK exports. The total exports figure for craft has fallen by 18% since 2015 but is still significantly higher than in 2013. The figures are driven largely by jewellery and the gemstone trade but, for the first time, they include volumes for a range of other craft disciplines.

In their report, What can we learn about the innovation performance of the creative industries from the UK Innovation Survey? Nesta advocates for a more inclusive definition of research and development (R&D) to help the UK’s creative sector to grow. The government currently uses a narrow definition of R&D that leaves out the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Richard Florida reviews a new paper from Frontiers in Physics that looks at the ways in which culture and cultural capital interact with economic factors (such as changes in median income and house prices) to shape urban economic development. The paper concludes that culture or cultural capital plays a key role in shaping urban development and economic growth. But in fuelling neighbourhood growth and development, it has also played a role in rising housing prices, contributing to gentrification.

The Freelands Foundation has published 2016 findings from its research into post-university support for emerging artists in the UK to inform its Artist Programme. The report recommends more peer support, funded placements and bursaries and subsidised studio provision.


We responded to the following consultations –

The Treasury on the taxation of self-funded work-related training. We welcomed proposed reforms to allow a tax deduction when self-employed people fund training on upskilling for their existing business

The London Mayor’s draft cultural strategy. We endorsed many of the proposals, highlighting the importance of everyday making where people and communities are living and working across the capital

Arts Council England’s Cultural Cities Enquiry. We focused on R&D, innovative financing and infrastructure challenges.