Support for the creative economy

Written evidence submitted by The Victoria and Albert Museum [SCE 027]

From: The Victoria and Albert Museum, submission prepared by Emmajane Avery, Head of the Department of Learning

1. Summary

· The V&A believes that museums and galleries are a vital resource for UK creative industries and play a key role in showcasing UK creativity and innovation. The V&A makes an essential contribution to sustaining Britain’s leading role in creative design by making the best of historic and contemporary design available through exhibitions, programmes, acquisitions and commissions.

· One of the museum’s key strategic aims is ‘to promote, develop and contribute to the UK creative economy’.

· 42% of all visits to the V&A South Kensington (1,100,500 out of a total audience of 2,888,700) during 2011-12 were made by professionals, students and teachers in the creative industries.

· The V&A’s public events programme seeks to highlight creative practices and bring the best designers working today to the consciousness of the public, through exhibitions and other public-facing events.

· Our education programme has creative practice at its heart and much of it is led by creative industry professionals so that people learn new skills first-hand. 88% of pupils are more interested in working in the creative industries and 85% have a better understanding of the range of career options in these areas as a result of attending our annual creative careers day for secondary school pupils.

· ‘V&A Connects’ events are run with the express purpose of inspiring the new generation of designers. They bring together undergraduates, postgraduates and young start-up companies with innovative practitioners, writers, business people and thinkers to foster creativity, entrepreneurship and the exchange of ideas and skills.

· The V&A is an active employer of creative professionals through capital redevelopment projects, commissions, installations, retail products and teaching opportunities.

· True to its founding principles of inspiring the makers and consumers of design, the V&A works extensively with creative professionals who want to research the collections in order to inform their own practice. Many of the products of this collaboration find their way onto catwalks, on shop floors and into people’s homes.

2. Introduction/Background

The V&A believes that museums and galleries are a vital resource for UK creative industries and play a key role in showcasing UK creativity and innovation. The Victoria and Albert Museum was established in the aftermath of the 1851 Great Exhibition with the express purpose of inspiring the makers and consumers of design through exhibiting the best in contemporary art and design. In 2012 it continues to inspire creativity and actively contribute to creative practice. One of the museum’s key strategic aims is ‘to promote, develop and contribute to the UK creative economy by leading the field in debate, inspiring designers and makers, commissioning excellent design and stimulating enjoyment and appreciation of art, design and performance’. The V&A makes an essential contribution to sustaining Britain’s leading role in creative design through exhibitions, capital redevelopment projects, public events and activities, commissions and acquisitions, and access to expertise, collections and archives for creative practitioners.

3. Visits by Professionals, Teachers and Students in the Creative Industries

The creative industries audience is a key one for the V&A. In the financial year 2011-12, 42% of all visits to the V&A South Kensington (1,100,500 out of a total audience of 2,888,700) were made by professionals, students and teachers in the creative industries. This was up from 28% of visits in the previous year. This was in part driven by a concerted focus within our exhibition programme (see item 4).

4. Exhibitions

The V&A’s exhibition programme seeks to showcase creative talent to give the public access to the best in historic and current art and design practice as well as inspire current and future generations of practitioners. In 2011-12 the temporary exhibitions programme included ‘The Power of Making’, an exhibition of craft skills with a workshop/making space at its heart. 56% of visitors to this exhibition came from the creative industries. In the same year we showed ‘Postmodernism’ (62% of visitors were from the creative industries) and Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto (71% creative industries audience). During summer 2012 we highlighted British design talent, through a headline exhibition of ‘British Design 1948-2012’ (62% creative industries audience), a smaller exhibition on the design process of Heatherwick Studios, with their acclaimed design for the Olympic cauldron at its heart, and 13 displays on British design innovation from an exploration of the regeneration of King’s Cross to a display of English topographical watercolours.

5. Public Events

The V&A’s public events programme seeks to highlight creative practices and bring the best designers working today to the consciousness of the public. Examples include:

· Fashion in Motion, a free full-scale public catwalk show run 3-4 times per year. Recent shows have featured Yohji Yamamoto, Peter Jensen and Olivier Saillard.

· Weekly lectures by top artists, designers, writers and critics, including recent talks by Christian Louboutin, Gilbert and George, Richard Rogers, Mary Quant and Paul Smith.

· London Design Festival, London’s annual festival of contemporary design held in September each year, with its hub at the V&A. This includes displays, installations and events which in 2012 attracted 111,583 people to the V&A, a rise of 69% on normal visitor figures at this time of year.

· The annual Digital Design Festival, where public of all ages and abilities, from under 5s to digital experts, can see the latest in digital design. This year 36 artists contributed and 19,000 participants took part over two days.

6. Schools, Colleges, Youth Inclusion: Inspiring the Next Generation

· Our secondary school programme has skills and creativity at its heart and is led by practitioners, often at the top of their game. For example a project with Key Stage 3 students was led by Heatherwick Studios earlier this year. Student, teacher and designer feedback was overwhelmingly positive. For example, ‘this project helped me be more creative… and…put my all into something when normally I wouldn’t’ (pupil), ‘The project has made us look at the way we deliver ideas and projects and made us realise we need to take a step back. We noticed the students working in new ways because of this project. Students have learnt…what it is really like to be a designer’ (teacher).

· Teachers have told us that students have obtained better grades than expected, that our schools programmes have made them rethink their teaching of design and that students have gone on to study creative courses at art school as a result of working with us. For example, Esher College took part in an animation project in February 2012 and wrote to us saying: ‘the V&A project has become very important to us in challenging and motivating the most able pupils to reach their full potential. Indeed we have two students progressing directly to degrees in animation this year….The work they produced in response to this brief was central to their portfolio success.’

· Our annual Creative Quarter careers day welcomes over 2,000 students who come to hear key designers talk about getting into their industries (such as, this year, fashion designer Paul Smith, architect Ivan Harbour, of Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners, and Christine Neilsen, Head of Womenswear Design at Alexander McQueen). Research from 2010’s Creative Quarter shows us that 88% of pupils who attended are more interested in working in the creative industries, 69% are more interested in studying creative arts or science subjects and 85% had a better understanding of the range of career options in the creative industries as a result of attending the day.

· We have a dedicated Higher Education and Creative Industries programme where we work with a wide range of higher education institutions and often broker collaborations between universities and industry. We place an emphasis on career progression and help students prepare for the career of their choice. For example V&A Connects is a Friday evening event programme for undergraduates, postgraduates and young start-up companies. V&A Connects bring together these audiences with innovative practitioners, writers, business people and thinkers to foster creativity, entrepreneurship and the exchange of ideas and skills. We have worked with the RIBA, onedotzero, D&AD, the Guild of Creative Entrepreneurs, Time Out and the Design Council among others. Example subjects for these events include ‘The Future of Magazines’, ‘Marketing for You and Your Business’, ‘Fashion Start-Ups’ and ‘V&A Connects with Pearlfisher’ (the brand and packaging design agency that include Innocent, Green and Blacks, Absolut and Waitrose among its clients).

· As a result of exposure from taking part in V&A Connects and a similar event for students called Digital Futures, a number of participants have remarked on their careers taking off, for example Amy Congdon, a postgraduate from CSM MA Textile Futures, has undertaken a three month residency at SymbiotcA in Perth, Australia, Amy Pliszka has had her work featured in the V&A as part of London Design Festival and also in various publications, and Paulo Goldstein is on the cover of FRAME magazine this month.

· Examples of the multiple university projects we run include a collaboration between Camberwell College of Art and Design and representatives from a range of Sheffield-based industries highlighting traditional industries use of new technologies and markets to sustain their skills and businesses, as well as students showcasing their own commissions and highlighting future directions in metalworking as inspired by the museum’s pewter collections. Another project saw 50 performance students take over the museum for the weekend with their own interpretations of scenes from Shakespeare, seen by over 5,000 members of the public.

· Staff are also actively engaged in supervising PhD students and offering apprenticeship training for young people. An example is the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards (also known as CASE awards) which are intended to encourage and develop collaboration and partnerships between Higher Education Institution (HEI) departments and non-academic organisations and businesses.

· We have an active youth inclusion programme, targeting young people not in education, employment or training, to learn new creative skills through working with us and with designers. We have worked in partnership with youth inclusion projects such as East Potential, Urban Development, Employment Prospects, the Stephen Lawrence Centre, Protégé, the Al Manaar Muslim Centre and many others to help young people acquire new design skills and for some of them to make the leap into creative careers.

7. Artists and Designers at the Heart of the Museum: Commissions, Employment and Residents

· The Museum’s residency programme sees a minimum of four artists/designers per year take up residence in one of the three studios in the museum. Residents are selected by open competition and, while they are in residence, make their own work, take inspiration from the collections and staff and take part in activities with the public. The Residents bring the art of making into the historic museum context. They have gone on to win commissions, prizes, awards and have their work acquired by the V&A as a result of their residencies.

· The V&A is also an employer of creative professionals, whether through engagement of architectural practices such as Howarth Tompkins, ZMMA, AL_A on its gallery projects, working with designers on products for retail, regular commissions (for example, for gallery furniture, exhibition design and contemporary installations) or through engaging artists and designers to deliver our public programme of events.

· A significant part of the V&A’s work with the creative industries centres on the regular requests we get from creative professionals who are seeking inspiration for their work. For example, Vivienne Westwood, Erdem, Richard Nicoll, Tom Ford, Dries Van Noten, Mary Katrantzou, Yohji Yamamoto, Chanel, Giles Deacon and Paul Smith are just some of the designers who have recently visited the archive for inspiration, some directly referencing the V&A’s collections within their own creations on the catwalk. The power the V&A’s collections have on some of our best designers is summed up by Dame Vivienne Westwood, who stated: ‘The V&A has been a big experience for me from the time when I first came to London, aged 17… it has continued to thrill me when I research in your archives and visit your exhibitions of excellence.’

November 2012

Prepared 17th November 2012