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  • Embrace (1) by Crafts Council Maker Patricia Volk FRSS

Research and Policy Brief November 2019

November Research and Policy briefing

In an election month, we ask what are the main political parties promising for arts and culture? In addition,


What are the main political parties promising for arts and culture?

The Conservative party say –

We will invest in arts, music and sport. Over the last nine years we have made real improvements in maths, English and science, and given more children access to a rich academic curriculum. We retain our commitment to the core subjects and also want young people to learn creative skills and widen their horizons, so we will offer an ‘arts premium’ to secondary schools to fund enriching activities for all pupils.

Alongside investing in science, we will maintain our support for the arts and culture, taking pride in the worldbeating strengths of the UK’s creative industries and its unparalleled cultural heritage. In addition to our new support for arts in schools, business rates relief for music venues and cinemas, and the largest cultural capital programme in a century – £250 million to support local libraries and museums – we will maintain support for creative sector tax reliefs and free entry to the UK’s national museums.

The Labour Party’s Charter for the Arts says they will -

  • maintain free access to national museums and galleries
  • invest £160 million in an arts pupil premium for primary schools
  • ensure lottery grants are shared out fairly between all communities
  • deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030
  • establish a co-ordinating committee for arts and culture working across government departments to drive a national cultural renewal
  • support and ensure grassroots, nationwide participation in the arts.

The Liberal Democrat Party say –

Arts, media and sports are essential for personal fulfilment and quality of life – they enlarge people’s experience and are part of what turns a group of people into a community. Funding for these organisations is put at risk with Brexit. Liberal Democrats will ensure that we continue to invest in our cultural capital. We will:

  • Maintain free access to national museums and galleries.
  • Protect the independence of the BBC and set up a BBC Licence Fee Commission, maintain Channel 4 in public ownership and protect the funding and editorial independence of Welsh language broadcasters.
  • Protect sports and arts funding via the National Lottery.
  • Examine the available funding and planning rules for live music venues and the grassroots music sector, protecting venues from further closures.

The Scottish National Party say –

Creative industries are of huge importance to Scotland socially, culturally and economically, with the total contribution to the economy (GVA) having grown by 62% between 2008 and 2017.

  • We continue to support tax incentives for creative industries, including for film and television, and for more work to increase equality, inclusion and diversity across the sector.
  • We will argue for streamlined visa schemes for artists and performers which ensures people from across the world can come to Scotland to perform, work and collaborate.

Maker Stories – inspirational women makers

Birmingham City University is working with the Crafts Council to help us strengthen our commitment to tackling barriers to professional craft. Dr Karen Patel introduces her Maker Stories podcast in which she interviews inspirational crafts women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Karen’s first project with us, Supporting Diversity in Craft Practice, examined the creative drivers and some of the challenges facing black and minority ethnic women makers in the UK.

How are art and craft improving physical and mental health?

The BBC recently featured Cardiff Metropolitan University’s LAUGH research project which  supports people with late stage dementia by designing innovative playful products. Crafts Council is now a partner in the related STAR project (Sensory Textiles Alzheimer’s Research), a pilot study with Cardiff Metropolitan and Swansea Universities. The neuroscience team are about to start processing the data from scans with 30 participants.

A new scoping review synthesizes the global evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being. Results from over 3000 studies identify a major role for the arts (including craft) in the prevention of ill health, promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across the lifespan. The report is co-authored by Daisy Fancourt who leads the MARCH mental health network in which Crafts Council is a partner.

The world’s largest ever study into the impact and scalability of arts interventions on physical and mental health has been launched by King’s College London and UCL, supported by a £2m award from Wellcome Trust. SHAPER (Scaling up Health Arts Programmes: Implementation and Effectiveness Research) will also have a stream of work specifically dedicated to examining how art interventions can be implemented within the NHS.

Just how precarious is it to be an artist today?

Creative United’s The Future of the Art Market explores the future of the UK contemporary art market. The report examines past and present influences and considers the market’s future – one that is more complex, unstable and fluid than ever. It sets the broad scene for the Crafts Council’s markets study, our most comprehensive survey of consumer attitudes to craft in almost a decade, for which Creative United are one of a team of steering group advisers. Our contractors are currently analysing the demand side and we will launch the report during London Craft Week next May.

A UNESCO study of Culture & Working Conditions for Artists uncovers persisting and emerging challenges artists and cultural professionals face and examines how countries around the world are addressing these issues through policymaking.  Highlighting inequalities in contracts, welfare support and travel, the study calls for improved working conditions for artists.

Lastly, the TES reports that the Department for Education has decided that England should opt out of a new test into creative thinking to be added to the Pisa international education rankings.