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  • Murmuration [detail] by Crafts Council Maker Anna Gravelle. Photo: Yeshen Venema

Research and Policy Brief September 2018

We report on:

  • New Crafts Council research partnerships

- Lauren England’s PhD findings on factors affecting students’ choice of creative higher education courses
- the Techne2 partnership and innovative approaches to creativity and practice
- the MARCH mental health network

- Promoting a country of origin stamp for Stoke-on-Trent
- The ingredients for arts to have a positive impact on health and wellbeing
- New data from the Mayor on artists’ workspace in London.

Crafts Council research partnerships

Lauren England (King’s College London) blogs about factors affecting students’ choice of creative higher education courses. Her PhD findings on professional practice development show how universities and specialist arts colleges remain key players in the development of craft skills and professionals. However, access to equipment, machinery and studio space are a big factor in students’ perception of opportunities on offer.

We’re delighted to be part of two new UK Research and Innovation funded research partnerships:

  • the Techne2 partnership – to focus on innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to creativity and practice. We’ve submitted proposals with partners for research
  • the MARCH mental health network will identify and fund research challenges and engagement activities to translate findings into policy and practice.

Arts and craft participation

DCMS Taking Part participation data shows that:

  • Adult participation in the arts (at least once in a 12 month period) has remained stable at over 75% since 05/06. Most common reasons for not participating are lack of time/money.
  • Child participation in the arts (at least once in a 12 month period) has remained stable at over 95% since 08/09.

However, participation by 11-15 year olds in arts and crafts activities out of school has declined significantly in the last 12 months (see fig 1.3). The proportion of children aged 11-15 who had done arts and craft activities decreased from 73.4% in 2016/17 to 66.7% in 2017/18. Attendance at street art events also declined (37.7% in 2016/17 to 31.9% in 2017/18).

Declining creative education

Analysis by the Cultural Learning Alliance of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) annual results tables show further declines in entry numbers for arts GCSE and A Levels:

  • a 10% decline in arts subject GCSE entries 2017 to 2018
  • a 35% decline in arts subject GCSE entries 2010 to 2018 (with a 4% decline in Art & Design and a 57% decline in Design & Technology GCSE entries in the same period)
  • a continuing decline in arts A Levels: entries down 24% since 2010 (with a 6% decline in Art & Design and a 41% decline in Design & Technology A level entries in the same period).

Survey findings from the Association of School and College Leaders show that 31% of their members have had to cut back on lesson time, staff or facilities in design and technology A-level subjects over the past two years.

Meanwhile - the number of jobs in the UK creative industries has topped two million for the first time. The creative industries workforce rose by 50,000 to just over 2,008,000 last year - a rise of 2.5 per cent compared to the average growth of 1.5 per cent in jobs across the UK economy.


The Government has published guidance on how to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. In the unlikely event that this happens, businesses importing or exporting goods from or to the EU will need to follow customs procedures in the same way they currently do when exporting to a non-EU country. Businesses may wish to familiarise themselves with the Government’s Guidance on Trading with the EU if there's no Brexit deal. Later in the year businesses would need (amongst other things) to:

  • register for an UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number later in the year
  • ensure their contracts and International Terms and Conditions of Service (INCOTERMS) reflect that they are now an importer/exporter
  • reconsider how they will submit import declarations
  • decide the correct classification and value of their goods to enter on customs declarations.

A new report is calling for Welsh arts and culture to be better promoted to international markets. In craft the International Showcasing Strategy for the Arts of Wales recommends a focus, for example, on specific markets where there is a common or appreciated aesthetic, e.g. Japan, North America, Northern Europe; and to bring curators, collectors and museum sector into Wales and develop an industry event around existing resource. The main barrier for makers to international showcasing is a ‘lack of funding to attend major showcases overseas’.


Creative United has released findings from its action research project, Prosper, designed to help Arts Council England better understand how it might support cultural business development more strategically. The programme’s findings confirm evidence of national demand for tailored business support for cultural creative organisations, as well as how the cultural creative sector continues to demonstrate an aversion to the ‘language of business support’, but not to its activities.

Supporting participation in culture

The Global Cultural Districts Network, a federation of global centres of arts and culture, identifies which stakeholders are important to informed and effective decision making and oversight. Case studies illustrate the need for a specific kind of governance that involves the active participation of citizens, civic and private actors, such as art associations and cultural agencies, in what is otherwise mostly a government-led process.

Meanwhile, Arts Council England has commissioned Cultural Democracy in Practice, a guide to moving towards a democratic approach to culture.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched its first Civil Society Strategy, with culture and digital inclusion included in its vision to empower and invest in society through the Cultural Development Fund.

The Cultural Value Scoping Project investigates how best to measure the value of arts and culture. Building on the AHRC’s Cultural Value Project (Crafts Council’s Chair, Professor Geoffrey Crossick was the Director) the report highlights the challenge of creating communities of understanding and practice for people across sectors to share a sense of purpose. A new Collaborative Centre for Cultural Value is to receive funding to address this.


  • 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 26 October.
  • Active Ingredients, a new report from Aesop and BOP Consulting, seeks to explain the positive impact of the arts on health and wellbeing by naming the ‘active ingredients’ that lie behind such outcomes, such as engaging curiosity, a sense of expectation and scope for experimenting.
  • The Mayor of London’s report on artists’ workspace in London (on which the Crafts Council was consulted) gives detailed findings about supply and demand. It shows that:
  1. There appears to have been no decline in demand from artists for workspace since 2014
  2. 67 per cent of sites identified in 2014 as at risk of closure within 5 years had closed by November 2017. However, between 2014 and 2017, 52 new sites providing artists’ workspace opened - a net gain of 13 sites.
  3. Sites show very high and continuous occupancy rates.
  4. The average price charged to workspace users is £14.29 per square foot.