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  • Work by Kazuhito Takadori

Research and Policy Brief June 2019

A short briefing this month, to tell you about:

New partnership study of the UK market for craft

The Crafts Council and eight leading national partners* from across the UK are delighted to be working together to investigate the characteristics of the market for craft. Over the last ten years we’ve seen an enormous increase in interest in making, from high end purchases to everyday participation. We want to understand more about how best to stimulate, support and grow that market. We want to know who’s buying craft, what they’re buying and why, how big the market is, how routes to market are changing now and in the near future, and what kind of infrastructure can best support the market. See our Invitation to Tender for more details.

*For more information on the partners: Contemporary Visual Arts Network, Craft Northern Ireland, Craft Scotland, Crafts Council, Creative Scotland, Creative United, The Goldsmiths’ Company, Great Northern Events/Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

Arts participation

According to new Ofqual figures the overall number of students taking GCSE arts subjects appears to be levelling off after a five year decline. The number of students taking Art & Design has increased by 9% from last year to 184,000, but the number taking Design & Technology has dropped by a further 22% to 90,000. A-level results also continue to fall in both subjects as this analysis by Arts Professional shows.

The latest DCMS stats show that over three-quarters of adults have engaged with the arts at least once in the year to September 2018. The methodology for the Taking Part Survey data for adults has been revised and is no longer comparable with previous years. However, earlier data for the years 2005/06 to 2016/17, available in the same set, show very little change in levels of arts engagement year on year.

Are you a maker who exports internationally? Would you like to export? Do you feel there are barriers that are preventing you from exporting your work and service abroad?

For the third year running we would be hugely grateful if you could take a few minutes to fill in our Supporting Makers Needs: Sales Survey.

Craft contributes £3.4bn to the UK economy (see Measuring the Craft Economy) - and you are part of this. Brexit is likely to change the way in which the UK interacts with foreign markets. In order to plan for the future we need to know more about how UK makers are operating at present. 

Please note the survey deadline is Monday 1st July 2019

The survey is anonymous and we will use the findings to improve our programmes, support the UK craft industry and to influence government and other decision-makers that invest in the sector.

Higher education

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore has spoken about how he values study of the arts.

The Government has published a review of Post-18 Education and Funding (known as the Augur review). It recommends maximum university fees of £7,500 a year, the introduction of maintenance grants for students from low income households and more flexibility in the student loan system.

The Creative Industries Federation (CIF)) has urged the Government to replace lost fee income and, in particular, that the costs associated with providing many creative courses to a high standard are recognised. (The Crafts Council is a member.) CIF is concerned that ‘the key measure of value relies primarily on earnings’ and recommends that ‘wider measures of value should also be taken into account for policy and decision making. This measure disregards broader social, cultural and wider economic contributions delivered by creative graduates, and the fact that many people within the sector actively choose to take roles that do not command huge salaries because they believe in the importance and impact of the work they do. This measure also ignores vital factors such as a person’s fulfilment, mental health and their quality of life.’

In addition, ‘It is important that the limitations of the early earnings analysis are taken seriously. The exclusion of self-employment income, alongside a failure to distinguish between part-time and full-time work, has a particular impact on the analysis of creative professionals. Many creative graduates have portfolio careers with multiple income sources, and 35% are self-employed. The current measures distort the reality of creative graduates' income.’


The Creative Industries Federation and Arts Council England highlight in a new report how public investment in the arts generates economic value across the creative industries and beyond.

King’s College London has launched a new Arts, Health and Wellbeing Hub to boost research in this field.