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  • Bubble Bath, Nora Fok, 2001. Photo: Heini Schneebeli. Crafts Council Collection

September 2015 Policy Brief

This month we bring you:


Government White Paper on the future of the arts

The government is to launch a White Paper in the coming months, exploring four themes: the role that culture plays in creating places that people want to live, work and visit; how people engage with culture; building financial resilience in cultural organisations; and to promoting British culture internationally.

In his blog, Ed Vaizey announces online discussions to take place over 12 weeks on social media through #OurCulture, to be released shortly. The discussion forum on Our Places Challenge is already open. We will be sharing our contribution soon.

Labour Shadow Cabinet and Lib Dem appointments

Jeremy Corbyn, the new Leader of the Labour Party, has appointed his shadow Cabinet:

  • Michael Dugher, MP for Barnsley East, is the Shadow Secretary Of State For Culture, Media And Sport. He was previously Shadow Transport Secretary and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office.
  • Lucy Powell will be Shadow Education Secretary. MP for Manchester Central, she was Shadow Minister For Education from 2013-2014;
  • Angela Eagle is the new Shadow Business Secretary and also Shadow First Secretary Of State. She is MP for Wallasey and has previous ministerial experience, having served as the Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society from 2009 to 2010.

The Crafts Council will be in touch with the new teams to welcome them into post and to introduce the craft sector.

Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter is the new culture media and sport spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats. John Pugh, MP for Southport, is the education spokesperson and Lorely Burt, MP for Solihull, is the business spokesperson.

Write to your MP

The Crafts Council is writing to a range of MPs about the importance of craft. We’re working with other arts and culture partners (#Arts4Britain) to tell MPs ahead of the government’s spending round about how further cuts will impact on craft. We’re urging you to write to your MP about why craft, and arts and culture as a whole, matter to local communities, using examples of activities in your area.

Lords Question - Creative Sector: Educational Provision

In July the House of Lords debated “how the government plans to ensure that the United Kingdom retains its global position in the creative sector in the light of plans announced in June to require all state secondary school pupils to study five English Baccalaureate core subject areas, which exclude any music, arts or culture element”. (Column 1110)

Lord Aberdare pointed out, “the Government’s focus on EBacc subjects is already causing some schools to reduce their provision of creative and cultural subjects, and making the EBacc compulsory is likely to lead to more doing so.” Lord Nash’s response for the government was that, “all good schools will encourage their pupils to engage in these activities.”

MPs’ views of entrepreneurs

A Parliamentary Snapshot paper from The Entrepreneurs Network points out the differences in Labour and Conservative MP opinions on entrepreneurship and the relevant policies.

Gross Value Added of DCMS Sectors

New figures from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport statisticians give an estimate of £238bn (16 per cent) for the contribution of DCMS sectors to the UK economy (GVA) in 2013. The DCMS sectors are listed as sport, tourism, gambling, telecoms, creative industries and digital. The figure of £76,909m for the creative industries is consistent with the figures published in the DCMS economic estimates 2015.

#MakerPaper on the impact of making on why the UK economy

Here East, the business and maker commercial space in development in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, commissioned Deloitte to produce Making in an Industry 4.0 World. Using research and case studies, the report shows the impact of making on the UK economy. Deloitte shows that making is generating up to £18bn and up to 298,000 jobs for the UK economy and that UK makers are estimated to be over 50% more productive than the average UK worker. But the findings also warn that lack of access to skills, finance and infrastructure may hinder businesses and products from scaling up.

The health of the creative industries requires a seamless industrial strategy

A new review by Ian Livingstone and PwC, Imagi-Nation: The business of creativity, looks at the health of the UK’s creative economy. Whilst it only makes a brief reference to craft, the report contains a welcome analysis of the importance of STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) and the risks of the Ebacc to creative education, as well as making recommendations about the need for further support from the government and the creation of a seamless industrial strategy.

Local authority arts spending ‘reasonably stable’

Local authority arts budgets in England and Wales continue to contract, but the sector has “been able to show resilience and remain reasonably stable overall,” according to Arts Development UK (ADUK). Its latest Local Authority Arts Investment & Partnership Survey predicts a 3.5% decrease in arts spend this year and suggests that as many as 37% of all authorities in England and Wales may now have no arts officer or direct arts service. Arts spend per head of population in 2015/16 in England and Wales is estimated at £2.73 per person, a slight decrease of 5.2% (15p) on last year.

British luxury industry worth £32 billion to UK economy

A report for Walpole by Frontier Economics shows that the value of sales from British luxury industries reached £32.2 billion in 2013, valuing the sector at 2.2% of the UK’s GDP. The report suggests that the British luxury sector will continue to grow rapidly in the medium term and forecasts the value of sales for 2019 to reach around £51.1 billion, with the industry set to employ 158,000 people.

(The recent Crafts Council and V&A exhibition What is Luxury? interrogated ideas of luxury addressing how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity.)

Higher education and the creative economy – new research

Beyond the creative campus: reflections on the evolving relationship between higher education and the creative economy explores relations between universities and the creative economy, looking at networks beyond the campus. The King’s College London report emphasises the importance of making sure the creative economy remains viable and sustainable for all involved. It is richly illustrated with accessible tables describing how higher education collaborates with the arts.

GSCE participation in creative subjects

There has been a lot of discussion over the last months about whether or not the uptake of arts GCSEs is on the decline in schools. The Cultural Learning Alliance has published a helpful analysis of the issues. The piece quotes the Crafts Council’s Annie Warburton who draws attention to the decline in numbers taking craft-related GCSEs, outlined in our Studying Craft report series.

Department for Education numbers appear to show a 1% increase in GCSE Art and Desigh entries from 2010, yet this figure omits Design and Technology entries which have fallen 25% in the same period.

Drastic shortage of design and technology teachers

On a related note, Professor John Howson, writing in the Observer on initial teacher training, highlights the shortage of design and technology teachers (amongst others).  His article is based on figures published by the Department for Education and described in the Guardian, showing that there is a 57% recruitment shortfall in trainee design and technology teachers. The Crafts Council is supporting the Design and Technology Association’s forthcoming manifesto which will highlight the threats to initial teacher training.

New careers and enterprise company

The new careers and enterprise company launched in September. The company was proposed by Lord Young in his report Enterprise for All and announced by Education Minister, Nicky Morgan, at the end of 2014. The purpose of the company is to fill gaps in the provision of careers and enterprise activities across the country and to increase employer engagement with young people.

Schools’ lack of support for apprenticeships

According to a poll by the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA), 63 per cent of companies do not think schools understand the advantages apprenticeships (in any sector) can bring to some of their students. Just one in 10 firms believes schools appreciate the benefits of apprenticeships.

The association said that the findings indicated that “far too many schools careers advisers are blindly leading our young people away from apprenticeships – even if an apprenticeship is the most suitable option for them”. Schools do not understand the benefits apprenticeships can offer their students and careers advisers are “blindly” leading young people away from them, according to two-thirds of the firms that took part in a new survey.

Creative Industries Federation Diversity Report Launch

The Federation, in partnership with the MOBO organisation, has launched a new research paper offering advice on action that can be taken on diversity. Creative Diversity – The state of diversity in the UK’s creative industries draws on benchmark studies from across the creative disciplines, arguing that there is a hard-headed business case for tackling the failure to capitalise on the full range of talent available and ensure that the creative industries remain the fastest-growing part of the UK economy. To read the full report, click here.

Studio space research

Workshop East has undertaken new research into ‘co-making’ within London for the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Greater London Authority. The report looks at 89 spaces and includes in-depth profiles and case studies. What emerges is a picture of predominantly independent organisations, mostly maker-led and established

through private funding, often by founder members taking out private loans. The 89 spaces mapped provide premises for over 500 small businesses, with these providing further jobs, services and products for thousands of other businesses and individuals. They also offer a broad range of classes, mentoring and skills training opportunities.

The report makes recommendations for supporting co-making spaces as a vehicle both for fostering enterprise and creating positive social space. It suggests co-making spaces could be linked with or registered on websites of central bodies such as the Crafts Council. See our Crafts Council Directory for how we are already connecting you with high-quality craft, makers and organisations across the UK.

And in response to enquiries about the availability of studio space, we conducted a small online snapshot to inform the Crafts Council’s work to support makers. The majority of the 39 makers who responded rent, rather than own, space and are the sole studio occupier. Most had found it hard to find space, were providing their own equipment and had experienced cost as the biggest barrier to accessing space. However, half of respondents had found their studio within three months. 

Improvements afoot in intellectual property rights

An independent report on the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) shows that reforms are having a positive effect on access to justice for small businesses, increasing the numbers of businesses able to defend their rights. Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe highlights the new Copyright Hub, designed to simplify copyright licensing and the change in Intellectual property rights

The Intellectual Property Office has also published its research priorities for 2015/16. They include an innovation theme, looking at:

  • the UK Design Rights ecosystem - an exploration of the positive and negatives of registering your design nationally and internationally; and
  • the role IP plays in incentivising innovation and how the UK can maintain its position as the best place in Europe for IP businesses.

Neither project has been commissioned yet, but we’ll keep an eye on what’s happening and report back.