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  • Captured [detail] by Crafts Council Maker Joanne Soroka

Research and Policy Brief May 2019

A strong education thread runs through this month’s brief –

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee said it was, ‘deeply concerned by the evidence we received around the downgrading of arts subjects in schools’. The Committee recommended in its report Changing Lives: the social impact of participation in culture and sport that, ‘The DfE and DCMS should work alongside Ofsted to design an inspection regime for primary and secondary schools that measures the volume of cultural education; the integration of cultural education with other areas of the curriculum; and the universality of schools’ cultural offers in ensuring that all children have access to the benefits that cultural participation can bring.’

An open letter from NEMO, the Network of European Museums Organisations, to European Council President Donald Tusk emphasises the importance of culture for the future of Europe.

In Parliament a number of MPs quizzed Children’s Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, about the steps the Government is taking to improve the provision of creative education in schools. The Minister replied that, ‘Art, music and design are compulsory in all maintained schools from age five to age 14. All schools, including academies, are required to provide a broad and balanced curriculum.’

The Welsh Government is consulting on proposals for a new national curriculum that comprises six areas of learning and experience, including expressive arts. The intention is that pupils will learn about their own culture and society as well as those of other people, at the same time as developing resilience and self-esteem.

Arts Council Wales is to investigate new ideas for how the arts can play a role in health and wellbeing. Y Lab, a partnership between Nesta and Cardiff University, will manage the project.

The Russell Group of 24 research-led universities has changed its A Level subject advice for students, abandoning its list of 'facilitating subjects’. It has replaced this previous guidance with a new interactive Informed Choices website.

Arts Council England’s rural evidence and data review shows –

  • Craft participation in rural areas is equal to painting, photography, film or digital activities put together (30.2% compared to 30.5% of survey respondents). (Craft includes textile crafts such as embroidery, crocheting or knitting, wood crafts such as wood turning, carving or furniture making, other crafts such as calligraphy, pottery or jewellery making.) By contrast craft participation is 24.3% versus 30.8% (all other activities) in urban areas (page 82).
  • Out-of-school attendance or participation of five- to 10-year-olds in art and crafts is 72.7% in rural areas (page 86), the highest of any arts and culture activity. But there is a decline in engagement generally among urban 11- to 15-year-olds over the five-years 2011/12 to 2016/17 (around 70%, with arts and crafts down 81.3%). Among rural children, only arts and craft participation went down significantly (down by 11.4 percentage points from 88.8%).

Meanwhile a new study suggests that crafts provide recreation, satisfaction, optimism, positive relationships and support, as well as helping participants to cope with negative feelings. Crafts served as a ‘leisure-coping resource’ and a ‘leisure-based coping strategy’. (Note that this is behind a pay wall.)

Findings from the Great British Creativity Test suggest that being creative can help avoid stress, free up mind space and improve self-development, which helps build self-esteem. The test was taken by 50,000 people and commissioned by BBC Arts from University College London (UCL).

Artists Practising Well is a new research report by Nicola Naismith, which focuses on the current state of affective support for artists working in participatory arts in health and wellbeing.

Craft Exports

Three leading craft businesses outlined their approaches to exporting in a panel discussion hosted by the Crafts Council and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Design and Innovation in parliament on 14 May. The event brought together people from across craft and the wider creative industries to discuss how makers and creators can export work abroad, work with other industry groups to grow their export strength, and discuss the challenges facing them in achieving these objectives.

Key issues that need to be addressed according to craft businesses are:

  • Simplification of the administrative burden of running a small business
  • Tax reliefs to help with shipping costs
  • The cost of tackling copyright abuses
  • Longer National Insurance relief for trainees.

New Minister

Rebecca Pow, Member of Parliament for Taunton Deane, has taken over from Michael Ellis MP as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport.

Also …

The Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project Craft Expertise, a collaboration between the Crafts Council and Dr Karen Patel at Birmingham City University, is calling for contributions to a conference on 4 December. Craft Economies – Inequalities, Opportunities and Interventions will explore diversity and inequality in craft in a changing economy. For more information visit http://craftexpertise.com.

The Making Futures journal 2017 has been published with papers on the themes sustainability, materials and practice, local/global divides and education, plus a workshop paper on Innovation through Craft, KPMG’s report for the Crafts Council.

Public Investment, Public Gain, a new report from the Creative Industries Federation and Arts Council England, helps to make the case for the central role that public investment in arts and culture plays generating commercial returns across the economy.

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