Creative education is “biggest hole in government policy”, report shows

Research from the Creative Industries Federation shows that the UK government spends less on the arts than other nations, and only 9% of the GCSE school curriculum is dedicated to creative subjects.

© Izabela Habur
© Izabela Habur

Research has found that the UK government’s spending on the arts is lower than other nations, despite people’s engagement with culture being high.

The C. Report has been published by BOP Consulting in association with the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), and has grouped information under three headings – the creative industries, public art and creative education.

High export rates and economic value

It compares the UK with six nations – France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Korea and the USA.

The research shows that the UK’s creative industries have the highest export rates and the second highest economic value, with Korea coming first.

Over half of adults visited a museum last year

The UK’s engagement with culture is also the highest, with 52% of the adult population having visited a museum or art gallery in the last year, and it has the highest number of arts and cultural venues per head.

Government spending on arts is comparatively low

However, the UK falls behind on government investment in public arts, which sits at €77 (£59) per head – behind France, Germany, Korea and Italy.

The research also shows that only 9% of the school curriculum for 14-16-year-olds is dedicated to arts subjects. Equally, less than a fifth of university graduates studied arts and humanities subjects.

“Cutting off the skills pipeline”

Sir John Sorrell, founder at CIF, says: “The UK has led the way in developing its world-class creative sector but we can’t be complacent.

“In order to stay at the top, we need to invest in the future – especially in creativity in schools, where the number of pupils taking design and technology has halved in the last decade. That is cutting off the skills pipeline we need for future success.”

Creativity “biggest hole” in government policy

John Kampfner, chief executive at CIF, adds that while other nations associate Britain with “amazing” creative sectors, from art and architecture to film and literature, creative education is “currently the biggest hole in central government policy”.

“It should not be possible for a school to be deemed outstanding if its students are deprived of a quality cultural education,” he says. “A reduction in the number of pupils with creative skills can only have damaging repercussions for the creative economy.

“Our international rivals have identified that the creative industries are a major and growing sector, and are getting the link between commercial and public investment, and the importance of education, just we are un-getting it.

UK could “lose status” as cultural leader

“If we are not careful, we could lose our status as a global cultural leader – that must not be allowed to happen,” Kampfner says.

John Mathers, chief executive at the Design Council, agrees that design education needs to be prioritised. “Our 2015 research discovered that design contributes £72bn to the UK economy,” he says. “Growing our economy depends on tomorrow’s workers having more and better skills than today.” 

He adds that the Design Council will be “working to promote the integration of strategic design at all levels”, starting with its higher education Design Academy programme.

“The UK urgently needs to start investing in design skills,” Mathers says. “The scale of the problem means that we now need some focused policy and real government investment if we are to maintain our competitive edge.”

The C. Report was released as CIF celebrated its first birthday last week, an event which saw Chancellor George Osborne promise to “invest in the arts”.

“Art for art’s sake is something I think is very important,” he said. “Investment in arts is an investment in who we are as a nation.”

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