What were we expecting?
Since the publication of the Industrial Strategy Green Paper in January 2017, the sector has been working on proposals for a Creative Industry Sector Deal to grow and strengthen businesses, and to engage with the wider issues of creative, cultural education and the talent and skills pipeline. Sir Peter Bazalgette was commissioned by the government to publish a Review for the Industry which included recommendations for local creative clusters (funded by £500 million government investment), careers advice and recommendations for expanded Saturday Arts Clubs.
In addition, we were hoping that the skills and education sections of the White Paper would put in place some tangible and effective strategies to boost the uptake of creative subjects and reverse the decline of the arts in schools.
What are the headlines?
The Strategy is divided into five very broad sections: People, Ideas, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Places.
There are four ‘Grand Challenges’ identified in the paper for focussed investment:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Data Industry
- Clean growth and energy
- ‘The future of mobility’ (transport and automation)
- The needs of an ageing society
There are also four ‘Sector Deals’ that have been agreed: Life sciences, Construction, Artificial Intelligence and Automotive.
It’s worth noting that very few of the measures announced in the paper are new – they are generally a repackaging of policies that have already been announced. There is also very little about education across the piece, and nothing that significantly addresses cultural learning.
What about the Creative Industries Sector Deal?
This is not currently in the agreed and funded list, but is mentioned in the paper as a ‘Sector Deal in advanced discussions’.
What has been agreed towards the deal so far?
- Up to £33million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for Audiences of the Future: ‘Immersive technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality are changing how we experience the world around us – from entertainment and art to shops and classrooms. The challenge is to bring creative businesses, researchers and technologists together to create striking new experiences that are accessible to the general public. This can create the next generation of products, services and experiences that will capture the world’s attention and position the UK as the global leader in immersive technologies.’
- The £80million for Creative Industries Research Partnerships with Universities which was announced in August 2017 and the national Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (part of the same programme), which will produce independent evidence to boost understanding of the creative industries, including how they are working together in clusters and across the wider economy.
Further investment and policy includes; committing to extend support to the UK Games Fund to 2020, and increasing the number of available Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas for non-EEA migrants.
The paper also states that government is still negotiating in areas such as IP and international trade, and that it will ‘work with the Institute for Apprenticeships to prioritise apprenticeship standards development for the creative industries in areas where they are experiencing skills gaps and shortages’.
Anything else of note for the arts, culture and education?
- More funding for research and development: including for universities to respond to local business need (the Royal College of Art’s InnovationRCA programme is cited as a good example).
- A great deal of emphasis on STEM education and skills; particularly Maths, as we reported in our budget analysis – missing the vital opportunity to invest in STEAM.
- An acknowledgement of the regional disparities in education provision and outcomes – with a fund proposed for teacher professional development to counter it.
- A pledge to amend the school accountability system to place technical and academic educational routes on the same footing: ‘we will also update school and college performance measures to ensure that students can make an informed choice between technical or academic education in time for the introduction of the first T levels, recognising them as equally valued routes.’
- Devolution of the adult education budget to mayoral areas in 2019.
- Strong mentions of the importance of Local Industrial Strategies and of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), but no obvious funding or investment into them.
- The commitment to ‘publish a comprehensive careers strategy that will set out plans to improve the quality and coverage of careers advice for people of all ages. The strategy will build on the current work of the Careers Enterprise Company and employers to increase encounters between businesses and young people and the National Careers Service, to improve the quality and coverage of careers advice in schools and colleges, and give people the information they need to access training throughout their working lives. It will be based on evidence, both in this country and internationally, which identities the most effective practices to support people of all ages and in all areas, including those who are hardest to reach.’
- A passing reference to the Cultural Development Fund: ‘we are investing £2m in place-based cultural development to continue to support the role culture can play in regeneration.’
- Some supporting research has been published for a couple of sector areas, geographically mapping the density of creative businesses and enterprise: notably for Libraries, Performing Arts and Movies.
How have people responded?
The response to the strategy so far has been mixed, for example, it was welcomed by the business body the CBI but colleagues in the sector, such as the Creative Industries Federation, have expressed disappointment.
What should we do now?
One of the real strengths of the process of drafting the Creative Industries Sector Deal recommendations has been the pulling together of all stakeholders to share ideas and resources, and the general agreement across all parties as to what the sector wants and needs.
Over the coming months it will be important for us all to keep up the pressure and dialogue with government to make sure that the Deal is agreed in the next round of negotiations – with the appropriate funding put in place in the next Budget to make it a reality.