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  • Bangle, Earrings and Necklace - Bronwen Gwillim, Jewellery Designer and Directory Maker

Research and Policy Brief March 2020

Covid 19

The Crafts Council team is working hard to support the craft sector during the Covid 19 outbreak.

Our regular newsletters (sign up here) summarise our calls for Government to support self-employed workers (working closely with the Creative Industries Federation). They also give advice for makers on support measures and grants and signpost opportunities to use the power of craft to unite people.

If you have any questions then please ask on Facebook or email makerdev@craftscouncil.org.uk and stay tuned on our Instagram and Twitter pages.

In brief this month –

From Visibilising to Mattering

Nicola Dillon’s first blog, reflects on her Phd with Kingston School of Art and Crafts Council. She uses it to explore the relationships between the in/visible, visual/material and race/matter, thinking about diversity and how materials and making can provide a means to question, navigate, resist, and disrupt the way we engage with difference.

Accessing digital creativity

Nesta highlights poll findings showing a lack of access to digital creativity. In spite of the increasing importance of digital creativity – the ability to combine digital and creative skills – pupils at private schools are more likely to have opportunities to develop these important skills than pupils at state schools. The survey of teachers found that the majority of English, Maths and Science teachers never offer students opportunities to develop their creative digital skills.

And the Digital Culture 2019 Visual Arts Factsheet shows that digital technology is most important for marketing and is increasing for creation. The biggest barrier is lack of funding to allocate to digital projects. The factsheet is part of a series of Nesta/Arts Council England studies on the impact and use of technology in the arts and culture sector.

Counting craft – we keep pushing

The Office for National Statistics have published updated codes for measuring occupations, including craft (SOC 2020). This will make it harder to measure craft as the economic contribution of smiths, forge workers, weavers and knitters are no longer visible in separate categories. We argued against this change and are now part of a working group to look at more detailed (6 digit) codes for craft that we are urging ONS to aggregate and publish.

Looking to other routes to improve how craft is counted, we proposed a new industry code (Artisan/Maker) which has been supported by The Royal Warrant Holders Association, The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, the Heritage Craft Association and the World Crafts Council.

We’ve also had discussions with DCMS and responded to their consultation on methods to calculate economic estimates, supporting the idea of exploring goods as a way of counting crafts’ contribution.

The power of community arts and craft

The Baring Foundation has published Creatively Minded: an initial mapping study of participatory arts and mental health activity in the UK.

Increased engagement with arts events, historical sites, and museums is associated with improved life satisfaction.

The Social Prescribing Academy has produced a very clear strategy.

Participants in arts on prescription workshops experienced a significant increase in global wellbeing, through reduction in nerves, stress and anxiety

Connecting communities and healthcare-making social prescribing work for everyone, a Community Fund paper, describes lessons from social prescribing pilots. ‘Knit and natter’ is one example of four main types of ‘connecting activities’ provided by community and voluntary groups.

Economic impact

The Cockpit Effect report shows that craft businesses at London’s Cockpit Arts studios increased their profitability by 12%. 147 businesses generated £5.9 million in total annual sales.

The Policy and Evidence Centre is testing whether there might be a creative industries multiplier effect – where creative firms and workers’ spending power boosts activity elsewhere in a city.

Research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows that creative arts degrees cost taxpayers 30% more than engineering degrees. The authors note this is an unintended consequence of the English loan-based system in which only the highest-earning graduates pay most of their student loans back. It’s not an estimate of the value of different degrees as final costs depend on actual earnings over the next 30 years. But last year’s Augar review of post-18 education and funding argued that while subjects like business, the creative arts and social studies have value, the volume of students studying these subjects is in excess of the value created. (See also the Cultural Learning Alliance’s briefing for more background.)


The March Budget confirmed the setting up of a Secondary School Arts Premium.

The Scottish Government has published a new culture strategy which seeks to put artists at the centre of new funding system.

The Birth of the Creative Industries Revisited (King’s College London) explores how the defining of a new sector in 1998 shaped future policy.