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Don’t stifle creativity with more cuts to arts education, say experts

8th May 2015

The creative industries is the fastest growing sector of the UK economy, but a new Tory government should recognise that high fees and cuts could risk this

We’re profiling subject areas to see how they could be affected by a change of government and policy priorities. This week our focus is on the creative arts.

The creative industries generate £76.9bn annually – that equates to £8.8m per hour and accounts for over 5% of UK jobs. As the newly-elected Conservative government make themselves at home at Number 10, we talk to experts in the creative arts about what they want – and need – from Mr Cameron.

The key issues:

The current university funding model does not support high-cost arts courses;

There is concern that higher education cuts are disproportionately affecting the arts;

University courses aren’t always aligned with the needs of the industry;

Areas outside of London aren’t getting their fair share of investment in the arts;

There are major barriers to entry in creative arts education;

The arts aren’t viewed on equal terms with other subjects.

What you think

We talk to academics, a vice-chancellor and industry experts about the key challenges facing the creative arts – and what the Conservatives can do to support the subject better.

‘The arts are not an optional extra – they’re fueling our economy’ – John Kampfner, CEO, Creative Industries Federation, says:

“The creative industries – from music to fashion, from theatre to video games, from architecture to publishing – help to make Britain great. They define our soft power around the world; they make our towns and cities more liveable and likeable. The numbers speak for themselves: our creative industries contributed nearly £80bn to our economy. They employ over 5% of the workforce. They grew by just under 10% in the last year alone – a feat our hapless financial services could not match.

“This has not come by accident or in isolation, but is the result of several decades of smart investment and policymaking. To make any further cuts in arts and arts education budgets at a time when we have irrefutable evidence of their economic value (let alone their social value) would be to bite the hand that feeds us. It would be to sustain the flawed assumption that the arts are an optional extra. We need to persuade ministers that our great art galleries, from Manchester to Margate, our flourishing TV industry, our growing reputation for fashion, and all the many other achievements are imperilled if we do not invest in the arts and cultural education. They are part of one ecosystem, one success story.”

‘We need to put creative education on equal terms with other subjects’ – Nigel Carrington, vice-chancellor, University of the Arts London, says:

“For the foreseeable future, there will be huge global demand for creative people – an area of education in which the UK excels. The creative industries is one of Britain’s fastest growing sectors. They employ more people in the UK than the financial sector or advanced manufacturing. There is an ever-growing list of collaborations between creative and science universities, big business and government at all levels and between countries. And yet government policy comprehensively neglects creative subjects in secondary and higher education. Creativity has a big economic impact and it needs to be taught. The new government must make the connection, putting Britain’s creative education on equal terms with other subjects.”

Read more on the Guardian website