Recognition, education and studio space: what designers want from the new Government

With the general election looming, we ask designers and organisations what they want the new Government to do for creatives.

Peter Higgins, creative director, Land Design Studio

“‘Creative Studies’ as a generic discipline needs to be threaded through education in a much more holistic and considered way. Presently, primary, secondary and tertiary art and design education are dislocated and randomly structured. The National Curriculum for the arts and design and technology is fragile and lacks the breadth of context needed for a degree education.

Foundation courses are being marginalised and losing their way, while the standards of undergraduate courses are being lowered as places are offered to second-rate applicants in order to increase numbers and revenue, to compensate for diminishing resources.

Former chairman of Arts Council England, Christopher Frayling has previously reminded us that postgraduate courses are becoming the finishing schools for wealthy, international students. We urgently need the Government to future-proof the UK’s hard-won reputation for the creative industries.”


Ben Tallon, freelance illustrator and Design Week columnist

“I feel legislative protection and creation of creative spaces is critical. Gentrification is rampant and while we cannot compete financially with the money property developers will make from residential tenants, the wider value of creativity cannot be understated in today’s world. These spaces are the bedrock of the independent creative scene that brings so much to the economy, society, technology and business.”


Sarah Weir OBE, CEO, Design Council

“Design Council backs the Creative Industries Federation’s call for improved teaching of creative subjects and a career advice campaign to extend the reach of creative careers across the country, particularly for those at a socio-economic disadvantage.

But our research shows that the UK already faces skills gaps in key industries. The pace of technological development and new ways of working mean that – for the UK to maintain its global competitive edge – it must now invest in core skills such as design. While we back plans to boost technical education, enhancing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects alone is not enough. Creative skills, in particular design, are critical in providing what our agile workforce needs for a successful future.

The next Government should provide a comprehensive Skills for Growth strategy to invest in these priority skills, across the wider education and training curriculum. It should also address skills required for adults, particularly those working in industries most exposed to technological disruption. So we also propose a ‘career health check’ for those aged between 40 and 50 to address the challenges of lifelong careers and learning.”


Dids Macdonald, founder, Anti-Copying in Design

“Anti-Copying in Design (ACID) is a member of the Creative Industries Federation and supports their manifesto but I feel the voice of UK design and intellectual property (IP) is still relatively unheard in terms of the wider copyright debate for ‘the arts’.

Post-Brexit copyright will be about nuanced changes made to existing protection. But for design, Brexit offers an existential threat because of the possible loss of EU laws. UK designers will be severely disadvantaged if they lose EU unregistered design rights, on which the majority rely.

Intellectual capital underpins the design sector and so IP protection, alongside effective enforcement must be at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategy, as well as opening up entry into new international trade routes. This will only happen with articulated government support and ongoing IP education, so that UK designers are IP-savvy post-Brexit, enabling them to take advantage of all opportunities.”


Deborah Dawton
Deborah Dawton, CEO, Design Business Association

“The new Government must build on its understanding of the contribution that the UK design industry makes towards economic growth and social good. Design touches every aspect of our lives through the products or services we use. It impacts all sectors of the economy, so there is no part of the Government agenda from which it is exempt. Its impact can be felt in sectors ranging from agriculture to robotics.

So our industry’s ability to drive growth and innovation in UK and global businesses must be supported. How? With policies and initiatives that 1) actively support the development of the creative skills we’ll need to grow our businesses and so deliver growth for others, and 2) improve the industry’s access to funding and expertise, allowing them to expand domestically and overseas.”


Erika Clegg, co-founder, Spring

“Government must continue to invite us to the top table, and enable us to contribute to policy in all areas, not just our own industry. Not just in Westminster, but also other regions through devolved government and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

As an industry, we need to make that happen ourselves. We’ll do it by developing clarity about the value we add and explaining it in terms that resonate with politicians and business leaders. Design businesses must demonstrate their ability to get to the heart of issues, understand people’s motivations, define routes to growth, deliver behavioural change, fuel reputation and maximise profit.

This is my often-proclaimed soapbox. Design has got to learn to speak up for itself and clarify why it’s an indispensable corporate and social asset. That’s how we’ll get that top table influence.”


What do you want the new Government to do for the creative industries? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Michela May 7, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    they should also delete that law for which self employed freelancers can’t be payed by recruitment company throw a normal invoice but only by making them becoming PAYE or via an umbrella company. This law doesn’t work for our industry and only made it more difficult for freelancers to find jobs and get payed.

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