HC 743 Support for the creative economy

Written evidence submitted by Josie Barnard [SCE 088]

SUMMARY

My recommendation is that the teaching of Creative Writing is included on the Committee’s list of creative industries and supported as such. Creative Writing courses feed other creative industries and provide transferrable skills that buoy British Industry in key ways.

1. ME

I am submitting as an individual who has extensive experience of teaching Creative Writing in a wide range of further and higher education institutions.

I am currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing with Journalism at Middlesex University (http://www.mdx.ac.uk/aboutus/staffdirectory/josie-barnard.aspx). I have in addition taught Creative Writing on the MA at Goldsmith University and the BA at the London Metropolitan University, at FE colleges including the beacon status Mary Ward Centre and the City Lit, and at publishers’ initiatives including the Faber Academy and the ACE-funded Tindal Street Masterclasses in Birmingham. I am also a practitioner (published novelist and non-fiction writer).

2. MY RECOMMENDATION

My recommendation is that the teaching of Creative Writing in further and higher education is included on the Committee’s list of creative industries and supported as such.

The pedagogy of Creative Writing makes a vital contribution to the creative economy, contributing to the creative economy’s skills base in two main ways:

(i) Creative Writing courses supply other creative industries with students, graduates and post-graduates who can write content;

(ii) Creative Writing courses aid the buoyancy of British industry including by supplying students, graduates and post-graduates with transferrable skills that include:

a) enhanced abilities in clear communication;

b) enhanced abilities in creative thinking.

3. OVERVIEW:

In its 2001 Creative Industries Mapping Document, the DCMS lists ‘publishing’ as a creative industry. But this category only includes writers who get published by commercial publishers. Students of creative writing who don’t get commercially published contribute to the creative industries in ways that I believe help future-proof the British economy.

Of the ‘issues’ named in the Committee’s call for evidence, my focus is on:

‘Ways to establish a strong skills base to support the creative economy, including the role of further and higher education in this’.

4. WHY CW TEACHING IS A CREATIVE INDUSTRY:

(i) PROVIDES CONTENT

Creative Writing courses supply other creative industries with students, graduates and post-graduates who can write content.

a) Content

Creative Writing students, whether or not they are published commercially, go on to supply content across the creative industries.

Creative Writing graduates often join the work place in areas on which the Committee feels it’s important to focus, particularly film, television and games sectors. Without good ‘content’, which Creative Writing students are trained to provide, the films, television programmes and games generally have much less value.

Career mapping of such Creative Writing students would see them go into industries including Advertising, Art and Antique Markets, Film and Video, Interactive Leisure Software, Music, Performing Arts, Publishing, Software and Computer Services and Television and Radio. This career mapping would spread out more generally across the public and private sectors in communication and design roles.

(ii) PROVIDES TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS

Creative Writing courses aid the buoyancy of British industry including by supplying students, graduates and post-graduates with transferrable skills of two main kinds.

a) Enhanced abilities in clear communication.

Articulate managers:

Reports show that there is a rising need in British industry for articulate managers. And, it is anticipated that this need will continue rising as the century progresses.

The Universities UK report 'Changes in Student Choices and Graduate Employment' (2010) points out that '86% of employers consider good communication skills to be important, yet many employers feel that graduates cannot express themselves efficiently'.

Learning to communicate effectively is central to any Creative Writing course.

In assessing the changes in occupational structure in England 1987-2017, the UKCES report, 'Skills for Jobs: Today and Tomorrow' report confirms that the demand for articulate, persuasive managers and senior officials will continue rising as the 21 st century progresses.

Again, teaching articulacy and the ability to persuade are central to Creative Writing courses.

New technologies:

In business previously, it was possible to ‘buy in’ writers for discrete tasks (a publicity campaign, for example, could be designed and delivered by one PR company or department over a period of time). In the 21st century, new technologies mean that more employees must have clear, flexible writing skills. Many employees have to use the social media (Facebook, Twitter and so forth) as a networking and marketing tool as part of their day-to-day work responsibilities. Commissions, contracts, sales stand or fall on these employees’ abilities in terms of clarity and persuasion.

Global market:

Globally, English is the key business language. We are world leaders in this area and-in an increasingly competitive world market-we should capitalize on that. Internationally, many businesses have English as a second language. Whether it’s for instruction manuals, press releases or top executive documents, clear expression-more often than not in English-is essential.

b) Enhanced abilities in creative-thinking.

Dissemination

Clarity of expression is important for those in business using new communication technologies, of course. It is also increasingly crucial in today’s workplace that users of such technologies can:

· assimilate messages from multiple sources;

· manage such inputs resourcefully and swiftly;

· turn such inputs into one meaningful, persuasive, relevant output;

· remain adaptable as new technologies emerge.

Creative Writing courses teach students how to become proficient and resourceful multi-modal communicators.

Management/leadership

Many of today’s Creative Writing students are tomorrow’s managers/leaders. Again and again in my teaching, I’ve seen managers and leaders who find that they need to boost their work-place creativity and do so by coming to Creative Writing classes.

Students who are taught Creative Writing are taught creative thinking. Creative thinking is clearly essential in business development and business management and feeds directly into the Government’s aims as outlined in the Prime Minister’s speech on supporting economic growth, which highlights the desire ‘to create the right environment to start and grow a business, making sure that people working in the creative industries have the right managerial and leadership skills to do so’.

Creative Writing courses teach articulacy and persuasiveness, which is of clear value to managers/leaders. In addition, three key areas in which Creative Writing skills aid managers/leaders can be identified:

· Ethics: the ability to move between different points of view is central to Creative Writing courses: this can help in terms of empathy in ways that facilitate solutions (for example at the customer interface);

· Structure: Creative Writing students must learn both how to devise new structures (first drafts) and alter existing structures (the editing process): that is, Creative Writing helps leaders/managers see the bigger picture of an organization, identify problems and implement organizational solutions;

· Engagement: the application of Creative Writing skills that relate to understanding points of view and structure can enhance engagement both of managers/leaders and the staff they manage.

Career mapping in this context sees students of Creative Writing going to (and gaining promotion in) a wide range of posts across industry, from PR to editorial to leadership.

5. ROUNDING UP:

(i) CREATIVE WRITING COURSES

Job-seekers’ and professionals’ thirst for Creative Writing skills.

Creative Writing classes remain buoyant in a tough climate . Indeed, Creative Writing courses and programmes including the Faber Academy and the Royal Literary Fellowship Scheme (RLF) are, despite the current economic and political climate, expanding, new courses are launching. This is testimony to the transferability and value of the skills Creative Writing courses provide.

The RLF scheme puts published novelists in universities to help 3 rd year university students apply creative writing skills to practical writing (i.e., the Fellows help students from all disciplines to, amongst other things, construct CVs and job applications). The RLF started in 1999 with 8 fellows. The success of the project surprised the RLF; some 90 writers are now working in 67 universities. Undergraduates are seizing on Creative Writing skills for the boost they will give them across the board in the jobs market.

Similarly, the publishing house Faber began to run Creative Writing classes recently under the banner ‘Faber Academy’ at prices that many in the market thought would hinder recruitment, and instead, they are having trouble keeping up with demand (they have recently introduced day classes as well as evening and weekend classes, and they increase their range of provision each time they publish a new schedule).

(ii) INDIVIDUAL EXAMPLES

Examples from past students.

From my practice as a Creative Writing tutor (at FE, BA and MA level) and as a published writer, I regularly see how creative writing classes deliver transferrable skills.

A manager who studied with me described how she gained a new understanding of structure through Creative Writing that helped her take macro company targets, break them down, and apply them locally on a micro-level. A television producer from a mid-sized firm who studied with me detailed how his fresh understanding of the best way to develop a narrative thread improved his spoken presentations and led directly to an increased number of contracts.

Many other anecdotal examples could be supplied on request.

Whilst there is an abundance of such anecdotal examples, hard statistical data that enables career-mapping of Creative Writing students is not available and the need for research in this area is urgent.

November 2012

Prepared 14th December 2012