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  • Teruhiro Yanagihara | Photography Takumi Ota

Research and Policy Brief September 2019

We’re chuffed to report on our two new research initiatives –

September Research & Policy brief 

In addition, we bring you –

Craft and social enterprise 

We’re pleased to publish an exploratory study into social enterprise and craft with partners Wrexham Glyndwr University. Craft and Social Enterprise extends our understanding of the power of craft to transform communities, with the featured social enterprises putting social justice and purpose at the heart of what they do. The report illustrates how social enterprises are supporting individuals, communities and consumers to enjoy – and profit from - the benefits of making. 

The market for craft 

We’re delighted to announce we’ve contracted Morris Hargreaves McIntyre to undertake a study of the UK market for craft.

The Crafts Council and eight leading national partners* from across the UK are working together to investigate the characteristics of the market for craft. Over the last ten years we’ve seen an enormous increase in interest in making, from high end purchases to everyday participation. We want to understand more about how best to stimulate, support and grow that market. We want to know who’s buying craft, what they’re buying and why, how big the market is, how routes to market are changing now and in the near future, and what kind of infrastructure can best support the market.

The study kicked off early in September with its first steering group meeting and intends to report by May 2020. We’ll be keeping you informed as we pursue this study and inviting you to contribute. Look out for updates.

** For more information on the partners:  Arts Council of Wales,  Contemporary Visual Arts Network,  Craft Northern Ireland Craft Scotland,  Crafts Council,  Creative Scotland,  Creative United,  The Goldsmiths’ Company,  Great Northern Events/Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. 

Other research

Lauren England reflects in her latest PhD blog on how the tension between creative practice and income generation manifests in different countries. The blog draws on her experiences of researching craft in a global context over the last six months and her observations on whether makers are seen as selling out by making commercial products.

A Cultural Economic Analysis of Craft includes a chapter by Julia Bennett on UK policy affecting craft. The book compares the craft sector across countries, analysing the role of institutions, educational bodies, organisations and market structure in its evolution and perception.

The New Creative Rural Economies report is a response by the creative rural sector to the Government's Industrial Strategy and the creative industries ector settlement. Proposals point beyond the urban and the rural, towards the formulation of a different set of national arts and cultural policy discourses designed to empower sustainability. The report recommends setting up a three-year pilot rural cultural development fund and a national rural cultural strategy.

Power and Privilege in the 21st Century Museum, a report from the Museums Association, highlights the challenges to inclusion within the sector. It provides practical tools and insights on how to transform museums and make space for multiple perspectives. 

The Heritage Alliance’s report on heritage and creative industries showcases successful collaborations between heritage sites and creative industries organisations. It features case studies of:

  • Kirsty Adams, 2018 winner of the National Trust Retail Call, a partnership between the Crafts Council and the National Trust. Kirsty Adams’ set of porcelain and stoneware products were inspired by Nostell Priory;
  • Exploration of the links between ancient and modern creativity in the CinBA project on Bronze Age crafts, a partnership between the University of Southampton, the Crafts Council and international partners.

The UK’s National Commission for UNESCO report shows how the UK is world-leading in innovation in its cultural heritage sector. Examples of technological innovation illustrate how the UK’s cultural heritage sector significantly contributes to the UK Government’s international development objectives.

Exploring the value of the arts looks at British Council showcasing and its impact on cultural relations and soft power. The main finding is that soft power aims should be made more explicit at all levels of engagement.

Value of arts and culture in place-shaping explores the centrality of arts and culture in case in six English towns and cities. The report findings show that 65% of people consider arts and culture good for wellbeing.

Education and skills

New analysis by the Cultural Learning Alliance of exam entrants from the Joint Council for Qualifications shows a:

  • 38% decline in arts GCSE entries 2010 to 2019
  • 4% year-on-year drop in arts GCSEs 2018 to 2019
  • 29% decline in arts A Level entries 2010 to 2019

Even though Art & Design GCSE entrants increased by 10% between 2018 and 2019, Design & Technology GCSE entrants were down 23% in the same period (and 67% since 2010). There were small declines of 2% and 5% in A Level entrants in these subjects.

Teaching hours and teacher numbers have also continued to decline in these subjects since 2010 (with a very small rise in Art & Design teacher numbers 2017 to 2018).

The Crafts Council was a co-signatory to an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education on the value of creative education.

A New Direction’s Building the Creative Workforce of the Future makes recommendations about how to strengthen access to the workforce. While focused on London, a number of recommendations are applicable more widely, including the need to make financial support available to young creatives.

Government announcements

DCMS’ latest export figures show that craft was worth £4.835 billion to the UK economy in 2017.  (See table 42.) There was no change from 2016 but the value has gone up 25% between 2010 and 2017. At 1% of the whole of UK exports, craft goods were the highest exports of all the creative industries. (Note that around 15% of these figures relate to the gemstone trade and around 30% to jewellery.)

Exports by country (table 39) show that about 40% of craft exports go to EU countries (mostly France, with Italy and Ireland next), 40% to Asia (mostly Gulf States) and the rest to NAFTA countries and non-EU countries (mostly Switzerland). Imports are similar in levels and distribution across countries, with slightly more coming from Belgium, China and India.

In the Chancellor’s spending review DCMS funding increased from £1.5bn to £1.6bn - a 4.1% increase in real terms for the department’s budget. This includes over £300 million to support the UK’s national museums and galleries and over £500 million for Arts Council England and Sport England to drive participation in cultural and sporting activities.

Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent and Conservative Party Deputy Chair, has been appointed arts minister. She is the third person to hold the post this year.