Support for the creative economy

Written evidence submitted by the National Museum Directors’ Council [SCE 049]

1. About the National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC)

The NMDC represents the leaders of the UK's national collections and major regional museums. Our members are the national and major regional museums in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, and the National Archives. While our members are funded by government, the NMDC is an independent, non-governmental organisation. The NMDC was founded in 1929, in anticipation of a Royal Commission recommendation that the national collections should 'coordinate their work and discuss matters of mutual concern'. Today the NMDC provides its membership with a valuable forum for discussion and debate and an opportunity to share information and work collaboratively.

This response highlights some key points on the vital role museums play in supporting, inspiring and contributing to the UK’s creative economy. It is intended to compliment submissions made to the Inquiry by individual NMDC member organisations.

2. Summary

The UK’s creative industries are world class and make an important contribution to "UK plc"-they have contributed £60 billion, or 7.3% GDP, to the UK economy. The creative industries rely on the UK’s reputation for creativity and innovation, and museums play a key role in this. The Collections Trust estimates that UK museums and trusts contribute around £1.2 billion to the UK economy each year through their exhibitions and cultural activities.

UK museums and galleries are catalysts for creativity, driving and presenting the best of British design and innovation. Museums inspire the creative practitioners of the future, acting as centres of learning for the creative industries and providing the infrastructure vital for the development of a workforce with creative skills. They support creative practitioners in a variety of ways and showcase UK creativity and innovation to audiences worldwide. Major UK museums and galleries are internationally recognized and trusted brands and play a key part in making the UK an attractive place to visit, study and invest.

Museums contribute directly to the UK creative economy by commissioning and undertaking work with artists, designers, architects, scientists, engineers, writers and filmmakers. They license the use of images and audiovisual material in their collections for non-commercial and commercial purposes, and in doing so support a huge range of creative industries.

Continued Government support and investment in museums is vital to ensure they can sustain their innovative practice and continue to inspire and showcase the best of British creativity.

3. Inspiring the creative practitioners of the future

Museums and galleries are a source of inspiration and research for designers and key resources for industry. A workforce with creative skills is vital to the UK economy, and this can only be supported by a cultural infrastructure from which it can draw its inspiration and its values.

UK museums’ encyclopedic collections-of art, natural history, design and technology, archaeology, social history and much more-provide an invaluable reference and continuous source of new ideas. Studying museum collections and the celebration of human and natural ingenuity they contain inspires this generation’s innovators and inventors. Designers of all kinds have been inspired by the nation’s collections and will continue to do so in the future. These designers cover a huge diversity of interest-from fashion to scientists, engineers to authors, traditional crafts to film-makers-and can be found visiting the collections.

The Victoria and Albert Museum was established with the express purpose of inspiring the makers and consumers of design through exhibiting the best in contemporary art and design and one of the museum’s key strategic aims today 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’. In 2011-12 42% of all visits to the V&A (1.1 million visits) were made by practitioners, students or teachers in the creative industries.

Vivienne Westwood is one of the UK’s most successful fashion designers and has made much of gaining inspiration from spending hours studying the V&A’s collections. Her infamous 1983 "Pirate" collection was based on an illustration she discovered in the National Art Library at the V&A and that relationship has continued ever since. The V&A embarked on a hugely popular worldwide tour of her work from 2004, and brought two of the UK’s most well-known style brands together in front of a global audience.

Sian Zeng runs a London based print company that produces interior products, wallpaper and gifts. She used the British Library’s collections to research her dissertation on Little Red Riding Hood and fairy tales, which has influenced the development of her products. She won a place at the 2012 Spring Festival and took part in a training session on how to run a market stall in the Business & IP Centre. Sian was awarded the young talent of the year by Elle Decoration Hungary in 2011 and has exhibited at Stella McCartney’s showroom during Milan Design Week.

The Science Museum has employed an inventor-in-residence in 2012 who has created products to take to market inspired by the Museum’s collections. The Museum also produces a ‘style guide’ for members of the public to use to develop their own ideas based on the Museum’s collections.

4. Museums as centres of learning for the creative industries

Museums are the nation’s great learning resource-through their collections and the expertise of their staff they introduce new subjects, bring them alive and give them meaning. Museums are an objective and independent voice contributing to national and international debates on science, technology and art. They promote awareness of critical questions of place, humanity, science and innovation.

Science and engineering are an important part of the UK’s creative industries, and museums like the Natural History Museum, Ironbridge Gorge Trust, the Science Museum Group and Thinktank in Birmingham play a leading role in delivering the Government’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) agenda.

Learning through and about the arts enables young people to make, create, learn and express themselves, and this is fundamental to achieving success in school and later life. Experience and confidence in the arts give skills vital to the creative economy. Securing the arts in the national curriculum is crucial to ensuring the UK remains a world leader in cultural learning, and to maintaining a workforce with creative skills. The omission of the arts from the new English Baccalaureate is a serious concern and at odds with any efforts to support and develop the UK creative economy.

The Science Museum runs a series of Antenna Live Science events. These focus on the latest contemporary science, with current practitioners and researchers coming to either demonstrate the latest technology or carry out research with the Museum’s audiences. One example, What makes your walk unique?, was run by researchers from the Movement Science Group at the School of Life Science, Oxford Brookes University, and involved analysing the unique movement patterns of over 2000 museum visitors. The study will help researchers to develop a device to identify different walking characteristics and future could be used to assess people with walking difficulties and help provide personalised treatment.

In the last year the Tate’s learning team has been consulted by organisations from countries across the world. Through turbinegeneration, the online resources developed by Tate, over 32,000 learners participate in a cultural learning network that spans over 40 countries, exporting UK cultural learning expertise and maintaining the UK’s reputation as a world leader in cultural education.

5. Showcasing UK creativity and innovation

UK museums promote the creative industries by presenting the best creative and innovative practice to a wide audience across the UK and internationally. They also support independent companies and small businesses by stocking their products in museum shops and associating them with the well-known brand of the museum or gallery.

Museums are the ‘shop window’ for the UK’s creative economy-both in the UK and overseas. Museums are engaged in ambitious touring exhibition programmes during which they showcase UK art, design and innovation. The V&A’s 2012 summer exhibition specifically did this with British Design Now, showcasing British design innovation since 1948. Visiting museums and galleries has never been such a popular pastime-the DCMS Taking Part survey found that 51.3% of people visited a museum or gallery 2011-12. National museums are some of the UK’s most visited tourist attractions with the Natural History Museum, British Museum and Tate all receiving over 5 million visitors per year. This footfall is further extended by national and international touring exhibitions.

In addition museum buildings, public spaces, exhibitions and displays showcase the highest quality design. New museum buildings regularly win architecture awards.

The National Media Museum hosts the annual Bradford International Film Festival, one of the most anticipated events in the UK film calendar. Over its 17 editions to date the Festival has presented hundred of new and classic films, and includes awards such as the Shine Short Film Award which highlights new works by short film directors. The Museum also hosts the UK’s longest running animation festival, the Bradford Animation Festival, which celebrates the best new animation from the UK and around the world. The Festival includes industry talks and workshops dedicated to exploring the overlaps between the worlds of video games, animation and film.

Each year the Shipley Art Gallery, part of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, hosts an annual craft selling show, Christmas Present. The show has been running for 20 years and average value of works sold each year is around £10,000.

New museum buildings showcase the talents of major UK and international architects, offering opportunities to create iconic and inspiring buildings. The Imperial War Museum’s American Air Museum building at Duxford, designed by Foster and Partners, won the Stirling Prize in 1998, and the Daniel Libeskind-designed Imperial War Museum North was nominated for the Prize in 2004. Eleven other UK museums have been nominated in the Stirling Prize’s 16 year history, and the museum and library sector as a whole accounts for more nominees than any other.

6. Supporting UK creative practitioners

Museums directly support creative practitioners in a variety of ways-through exhibiting their work, appointing resident artists and designers, commissioning the creation of new work or the facilitation of workshops with visitors, or by offering opportunities for volunteering. Museums are also active employers of creative professionals-for capital projects, exhibition design, installations, retail products and teaching opportunities.

Public museums and galleries provide both a training ground and a showcase for artists, craftsmen, makers and entrepreneurs. Local and regional museums champion and incubate local talent: the Leeds Craft Centre stocks locally-made products; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery celebrated contemporary lace-making and Manchester City Gallery papercraft in 2012. The National Portrait Gallery, Royal Museums Greenwich and the Natural History Museum all exhibit the work of entrants into high profile annual competitions for portraiture, astronomy and photography, attracting audiences of thousands. Museums provide crucial opportunities for young artists through competition and work with art schools.

Licensing forms an important support role performed by museums and galleries. The licensing of images and audiovisual material helps support publishing, design, film-making and the gift industry. In 2007, the IWM generated £800,000 through film licensing alone, illustrating the crucial importance of national collections as material to inspire film and documentary making.

The National Gallery’s Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 was a collaborative project between the Gallery and the Royal Ballet. The Gallery invited artists from all disciplines to respond to three paintings by Titian by producing a body of new work for publication, performance on stage at Covent Garden, and for display in an exhibition at the National Gallery alongside Titian’s work. Three contemporary artists-Chris Ofili, Conrad Shawcross and Mark Wallinger-were invited to make new stage sets and costumes for ballets, and were given a room each in the National Gallyer’s main exhibition space to display their new work in a free exhibition that ran throughout the Olympic period.

Artists are supported by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust on a number of levels, including the provision of high-quality exhibition and retailing opportunities, with the Museum’s established retail units throughout the Gorge. In 2010, the Museum launched a new range across its retail units called Made in the Gorge, showcasing the work of artists and makers based within the World Heritage Site. The Trust is the landlord for Craven Dunhill, a major manufacturing business producing period style tiles and features, and for a company called Scream, which produces digital interactives for companies including Orange.

Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry was inspired by the collections of the British Museum, creating exclusive merchandise for the Museum as well as new work based on the collections which were exhibited in his hugely popular 2012 exhibition at the British Museum The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman.

The chimneypiece makers Chesneys worked with the Sir John Soane’s Museum to create a range of Soane collection-inspired chimney pieces.

7. Contributing to the creative economy

Museums contribute directly to the UK creative economy through the work of the creative professionals on their own staff. Many larger museums offer consultancy services in a range of specialist areas such as exhibition design, conservation and collections care. Many also publish books through their own in-house publishing or in partnership with other publishers. Museums license the use of images and audiovisual material in their collections for non-commercial and commercial purposes, and in doing so support a huge range of creative industries.

The Natural History Museum offers a world-class consultancy service rooted in the expertise of Museum staff. Services provided by the Museum include advice on exhibition design, caring for collections, project feasibility studies, facilities assessments and visitor programming. The Museum also delivers a range of specialist scientific consultancy, research and education services including analytical and imaging facilities, environmental assessments, and advice on subjects ranging from biomedicine to mining and petroleum.

NMDC broadly supports the findings of the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth. In particular the proposed solution to the problem of ‘orphan works’ (a work for which it is not possible to locate the rights holders after a diligent search) in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill creates a way for creators to be recognised and recompensed whilst enabling commercial and non-commercial use of orphan works in public museum collections. This would provide the opportunity for up to 50 million orphan works to be made publicly available.

The British Library provides dedicated services for businesses, entrepreneurs and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) through its Business & IP Centre. This includes 6,900 users from the creative industries as well as high-tech companies and inventors. The Centre provides free access to over £5 million worth of business and intellectual property information and runs a programme of workshops, one-to-one advice sessions and networking events. Significantly, it also helps users to understand the principles of intellectual property (copyright, trademarks, patents, registered designs) and their rights for their own creative work.

Since opening in 2006, the Business & IP Centre has welcomed over 300,000 entrepreneurs and SMEs including repeat visitors, and delivered advice and skills training to over 30,000 people. As a result it has helped to create 2,775 businesses, of which 40% are owned by women, 29% by ethnic minority groups and 10% by people with a disability. An additional 3,345 jobs have been created in new and existing businesses, and overall, these businesses have increased their turnover by £153 million.

November 2012

Prepared 17th November 2012