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Home // What We Do // September 2016 Policy Brief
  • The Discombobulated Brexiteer, John Grayson, 2016. Photo: Iona Wolff

September 2016 Policy Brief

Welcome back! This month we report on:

  • the crafts sector’s views on Brexit and how we’re responding, in the context of recent research findings about the cultural and creative industries across Europe;
  • risks to the craft economy; and
  • new findings on makers and studio spaces.

Brexit and European research news

The UK’s exit from the European Union is likely to impact on our economy and, specifically, industries such as art, craft and design, all of which benefit from EU funding and access to the European Single Market. We conducted a survey about priorities for craft, to which over 1200 of you responded. The findings reveal concerns about Brexit, but also a sense that with the right strategy, this could still be a moment of opportunity for the crafts sector. 

In response, we are formulating policy positions and contributing evidence to the Creative Industries Council, the Creative Industries Federation and the British Council on the implications and conditions for Brexit. We are also submitting evidence to government departments and to the forthcoming Culture Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into the impact of Brexit. In addition, Rosy Greenlees, our Executive Director, is providing international leadership following her election as president of the World Crafts Council. And we continue to promote and support UK craft through our international showcasing and professional development programmes

Minister, Matt Hancock, gave assurances to the creative industries that creative sector tax reliefs would not be “adversely affected” by Brexit. He also said that he would ‘fight to ensure that the creative and digital industries are at the heart of this Government’s industrial strategy with a tax, regulatory and public investment framework that supports you to grow.’ 

A number of designers and makers have given their support to Dezeen’s Brexit Design Manifesto, that sets out how design can help the UK thrive after Brexit, as long as design is championed in schools and higher education. The manifesto echoes calls for change in Our Future is in the Making, the education manifesto for craft and making, launched by the Crafts Council in 2014.


  • the European Parliament's CULT and ITRE Committees have recognised the economic impact of cultural and creative industries. A new report calls for coherent EU policy in support of the cultural and creative industries, including action to promote inter-sectoral collaborations and tailor-made solutions for financing and funding of and for the cultural and creative industries;
  • a report from the Austrian Institute for SME Research and VVA Europe, Boosting the competitiveness of cultural and creative industries for jobs and growth, shows that the cultural and creative industries employ more than 12 million people in the EU, which is 7.5% of all people employed in the economy. The report shows that cultural and creative industries generate 5.3% of the total EU GVA; 
  • Nesta’s latest report Skilled migration and the UK’s creative industries argues that to support the growth of the creative industries, we need to do all we can to ensure that the UK is able to access talent from outside of Europe; and
  • continued political and economic uncertainty across the EU has raised concerns about levels of innovation and competitiveness in the region. Yet, new research on innovation, Measuring the use of design across Europe indicates that Europe is actually exceeding expectations when it comes to the state of design, while there are some warning signs for the UK.

Risks to the craft economy in education and skills 

Craft education and training remains at risk – look out on 4 October for an animation of our latest research findings, showing declining opportunities to pursue craft in school and higher education, but a glimmer of hope in rising apprenticeship numbers. 

Volume IV of Making Futures (over seventy papers that explore what it means to make) includes the Crafts Council’s paper, Trends in craft education and the value attached to craft, that describes the findings from earlier iterations of our Studying Craft research series

Meanwhile, NSEAD report on the sharp fall in GCSEs in Art & Design in 2016. 

And the reduced emphasis on creative subjects within the national curriculum, schools and colleges is the focus of The Value of Design in the UK Automotive Sector 2016. The report highlights how this is impacting negatively on resources and careers advice in automotive design, which risks leaving the industry with a gap in its ability to meet and sustain growth, in spite of its potential. 

The Government’s Select Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy has concluded that inadequate careers guidance in many English schools is exacerbating skills shortages and having a negative impact on the country’s productivity. Too many young people are leaving education without having had the chance to fully consider their future options or how their skills and experiences fit with opportunities in the jobs market.
The Institute of Making at University College London is keen to ensure that the diversity of large and small manufacturers contribute to manufacturing policy and would like to hear from makers about their role in urban manufacturing. If you are a London-based maker please complete the Institute’s survey on manufacturing

Maker spaces and studios

Creative United explore the growth in the provision of studios, makerspaces and creative workspaces in the UK.  Making Space: Developing and Sustaining Affordable Artists’ Studios and Creative Workspaces explores current challenges and recommends that a new national unit is set up to build capacity and that feasibility studies are conducted to explore new forms of funding and finance.

From Now On is researching the ways that makerspaces are expanding their ambitions and the roles they’re playing in business and society. Their interim report shows the influence that maker culture is having on existing organisations.    

Justine Simons, London’s deputy mayor for culture, has said that City Hall is considering establishing “creative enterprise zones” in neighbourhoods such as Hackney and Peckham. Simons told the Standard newspaper that artists working in such zones would receive assistance in purchasing unused space and that businesses would receive lower rates.