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  • Work by Crafts Council Maker Gill Hewitt

Research and Policy Brief October 2018

We bring you:

Brexit advice

Six months away from Brexit, our main message is don’t panic! Any future changes will happen quite slowly. As we await news of the final deal that the Government is negotiating we offer some interim Brexit advice.

Increase in maker exports

For the second year running we’ve undertaken a small national survey of how UK makers export internationally. It is one of a number of ways in which the Crafts Council supports makers to export. We find that 32% of respondents’ sales are now from international work, compared to 25% of makers surveyed last year. The largest markets are Europe (76% of respondents) and North America (73%) and more makers are turning to support organisations for exports advice. See Supporting makers to export: survey findings 2018 for more findings.

Collaborative research into haptics

Our latest research collaboration focuses on how the sensation of touch evolves across our lifespan as adults. The experience of touch is central to craft practice and this interdisciplinary pilot project with colleagues in Art & Design at Cardiff Metropolitan University and Cognitive Neuroscience at Swansea University aims to further our understanding of the neural underpinnings of the sensation of touch as we age.


Ofsted has announced a new inspection framework that will place more focus on the quality of education. Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said “We want to know what is being taught and how schools are achieving a good education, not just what the results are looking like.” Whilst the decline in creative education in schools continues (see the Crafts Council’s Studying Craft series of reports) the new framework offers hope for a fresh look at curriculum balance.

The Burberry Foundation has launched its first school-based arts and culture programme to study the impact of arts education on young people’s lives, partnering with King’s College, London. Working with The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Young Film and Northern Ballet, a programme of theatre, film, dance and art will be delivered in eight schools in Yorkshire.

Time To Listen summarises what 14-18 year old students say about the value of arts and cultural education. The level of participation in the arts of young people in the 30 schools studied was higher than the national average. Young people felt that:

  • in arts lessons they have more agency, responsibility, independence and freedom to make decisions;
  • the arts are a valve for releasing the pressures they experience elsewhere in their lives and this improves their health, wellbeing and happiness;
  • arts and cultural learning is open-ended and experimental, so there is no right or wrong;
  • they value having to develop and support their own views and opinions;
  • they have a different relationship with their teachers because of the ways they are taught.

The All-Party Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group has set out a vision for how design thinking and skills can be embedded into education. Recommendations include the need to incorporate design thinking into other subjects across the curriculum.

House of Lords debates on arts

Ruth Smeeth, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North is championing a mandatory country of origin stamp to protect ceramics products made in Stoke-on-Trent from being undercut by those produced abroad and sold as British. Her proposed Ceramic (Country of Origin) Bill will be debated a second time in Parliament on 23 November.

Baroness Deborah Bull  (formerly of Kings College London Cultural Institute and the Royal Opera House) made her maiden speech in the House of Lords on 6 September, speaking about the importance of careers advice and a creative education to the future of all children (4.22pm). On 11 October the Baroness spoke again about the risks to the arts of a badly managed exit from the EU (4.37pm).

Government announcements

The Government has published an action plan to support museums in England and a partnership framework to enable national museums to “extend their reach throughout England in a more strategic way”. The documents follow the 2017 Mendoza Review of the English museum sector.

The Government’s strategy to tackle loneliness aims to enable all GPs in England to use social prescribing to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services in the next five years.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published research to understand the visitor and non-visitor value of cultural engagement at four cultural institutions in England and to test whether economic valuation techniques for cultural sites can be transferred to similar sites in England.


Artist Angela Kennedy offers an insight into the thinking and organisation that led to the formation of the trade union for artists, Artists’ Union England (see CAMEo Cuts #8), and argues the case for workers’ representation and organising in the arts sector.