Support for the creative economy

Written evidence submitted by Professor Stuart Bartholomew, the Arts University College at Bournemouth [SCE 007]

I have learned of the Select Committee for Culture Media and Sports inquiry into support for the creative economy from Dinah Caine, CEO of Creative Skillset. My own university was the first designated Screen and Media Academy by this Sector Skills Council and has been active in the development of a strong skills base for creative industries.

The Select Committee should be aware of the reports, "Creative Graduates Creative Futures" Ball, Stanley and Pollard, The Institute for Employment Studies 2010 and "Creative Prosperity: The role of Higher Education in driving the UK’s Creative Economy" Universities UK, 2010. The first is a longitudinal study of the career patterns of graduates in creative arts, design and media subjects and the latter an analysis of HE in generating innovation, skills and knowledge for the creative economy and in particular that driven by digital technologies. As Chair Of Ukadia the UK association of specialist institutions of arts and design I have contributed to both studies.

I welcome the growing recognition of the significance of the creative industries to the national economy, however, what is less well understood is the contribution of higher education to the education and training of the practitioners to these largely graduate creative professions. In this regard I wish to draw the Select Committees attention to the sustainability of the strong position the UK currently holds within global creative industries. The pre-eminence of UK Design, Arts and Media are based upon alumni of our art and design institutions who graduated 20 years ago. We must look closely at the threats to this supply chain. Reforms to the national curriculum, proposals relating to an English EBAC witness a reduction in school experience of creative arts subjects. Candidates presenting themselves for advanced awards at our universities are less prepared for the courses of study on which they embark. There has been no recognition of the relevance of subjects like design to STEM subjects in the sciences which are receiving strong material support from the English funding council (HEFCE). In summary there is a decline in both the volume and quantity of candidates to support the creative industries and insufficient recognition of the need to support and stimulate specialist studies in design. In a global setting where our competitors in Asia and the Indian sub-continent and making huge investments in design education we must not be complacent over the advantage we currently hold.

There are many more points I would wish to raise with you and in the event that I can be of further assistance to this important inquiry please do not hesitate to contact me.

October 2012

Prepared 17th November 2012