What’s the first thing you’d like to see the next government do to help the design industry?

Earlier this week we asked all the major political parties what they would do for the design industry if they won at the next General Election. Now, we ask those in the design industry what they would like to see from the next government.

John Mathers, chief executive, Design Council
John Mathers, chief executive, Design Council

“Well if we are to believe Ed Miliband the first thing that we need to do is light a fire. ‘Hold my feet to the flames’ he said. On Monday evening, at an event hosted by the Battersea Arts Centre and organised by the Creative Industries Federation, Miliband promised to move culture and creativity from the margins to the mainstream, to embrace STEA(Arts)M, not just STEM and to put arts and culture policy at the heart of government, with culture not just belonging to one department but embraced across government. He also committed to immediately set up a Prime Minister’s Committee on the Creative and Cultural sectors. Assuming that we are going to get a commensurate response from the other parties – and well done to the Warwick Commission report which seems to have been an amazing prompt – and that we get greater clarity on – and between – the roles that the two sectors play then… reach for the matches.”


Nigel Carrington, vice-chancellor, University of the Arts London
Nigel Carrington, vice-chancellor, University of the Arts London

“Government needs to see creative subjects as more than just a skill-set. Creativity is a way of thinking that leads to innovation, can be taught to anyone and used in any career. It should be seen as a marketable skill and a key economic differentiator for the UK. To do this properly, government needs a joined-up creative policy which is enshrined in education and industrial policy, as well as specialist arts areas: an essential rather than nice-to-have objective for government.”


Viviana Doctorovich, user experience designer and co-founder of Ladies That UX
Viviana Doctorovich, user experience designer and co-founder of Spring Forward Festival

“In the last few years the creative industries have outperformed the UK economy and design has been a key engine for this growth. The design sector has certainly provided a competitive edge for the country, which will trigger the demand for more highly skilled designers. I would like the new Government to ensure design is a core National Curriculum subject to help meet that future demand, and engage design leaders as advisors to ensure the teaching programmes reflect the realities of the industry and to help prepare future generations for the challenges ahead. “


Patricia van den Akker, director, The Design Trust
Patricia van den Akker, director, The Design Trust

“Focus on the large numbers of microbusinesses, not just the big boys. The current government and HMRC barely knows the numbers of freelancers and soletraders involved (as shown in the recent VAT MOSS debacle), their business and tax needs, better self-employment pension provision and childcare support. Do freelancers really need to bring in their own kit to work in an agency to proof their legal status as a freelancer? Get to understand the crucial and very large micro business sector before creating policies that stops them doing their jobs.”


Joe Macleod, founder, Include Design
Joe Macleod, founder, Include Design

“I would really like to see a future government embrace STEAM in education and value our cultural standing in the world. The current government, and particularly the last education minster, pursued policies similar to developing countries and reduced consideration of the arts and design in the class room. This was counter to our role in the world as a cultural influence. The World Soft Power League, published by Monacle every year, lists the world’s most culturally influential countries. In 2012 we were first, mainly as a result of the Olympics. This year its the US, mainly influenced by Silicone Valley and the Tech Boom. A recent government committee on soft power considers a good soft power rating as ‘essential for protecting the UK’s interests’ and recommends ‘appreciation of our cultural strengths’ as a way to achieve this, consequently endorsing a STEAM approach to education not an outdated STEM one.”


Anne Mullins, director, Vital Arts
Anne Mullins, director, Vital Arts

“The next government must support the recommendations of the recent Warwick Commission Report, which calls for cross-departmental working to deliver a national plan for a richer cultural education for every child in the UK. The recent drop by 50 per cent of young people taking GCSEs in design and other creative subjects as a consequence of the narrow focus on STEM subjects is terrible news for our leading-edge creative sector. The next government needs to protect the future of the creative industries, by committing to policies that remove outdated educational silos between culture and science – matched with investment.”


Paul Thurston, head of service design, PDR
Paul Thurston, head of service design, PDR

“There are some great examples of local authorities using design to improve customer experience, utilise resources and drive behaviour change. Shropshire, Cardiff and Monmouthshire are examples of this. But these are few and far between in the environment of the financial cuts championed by this current government. I’d like to see this approach to design-led innovation at a local level encouraged by central government and backed by funds for design managers to work within procurement, service operations and customer service teams in local authorities. This internal capacity will drive change in practise from commissioning design services right through to how a council engages with citizens and designs services.”

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