Director's Blog - August 2019



Congratulations to Sarah Rowles, CVAN’s comms manager on her new lecturer job at the Arts University Bournemouth. It’s with huge regret that we lose her and I’m sure everyone will want to thank Sarah for the really informative newsletters as well as her expert consultation on creative skills. We wish her every success in her new role which she will continue to do alongside her work with Q-Art.

Rose Copsey is joining us as our new comms manager and will be taking over the newsletter from next month as well as working on our overall comms strategy. With a rich history working in the commercial and public arts sectors, Rose is keen to democratise art appreciation through digital marcomms, and we’re really glad to welcome her on board. You can find out more about her here.

CVAN’s Policy Focus

CVAN is focusing on three main areas for the coming year:

  • Visual Arts as a global force

  • A sustainable sector

  • Diverse and inclusive visual arts and culture

CVAN Consultation: Visual Arts as a Global Force

CVAN ran two consultation events (in Gateshead and London) with the All Party Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group (APDIG) and Slade/UCL, exploring Visual Arts as a Global Force to gather evidence to shape messaging and sector development on the UK visual arts force post-Brexit. We were delighted with the uptake and energy at the events and we aim to plan similar networking and consultation events in the future.

Huge thank you to everybody who attended and for the rich and complex insights you brought. We are now working with APDIG to collate the data and a report will be launched in Parliament this Autumn. A date will be announced shortly. Due to the nature of the event, tickets will be by invite only.

The Audience Agency Visual Arts Sector Report

Over the past 18 months, CVAN has been collaborating with The Audience Agency to produce a Visual Arts Sector Report for 2019. The overall aim of this project is to harness the regional engagement of the visual arts, which will shape how CVAN works with TAA in building a stronger evidence base. This will inform the nature of our work as we develop our sector (rather than just for reporting to funders as a chore!). We are in the process of forming a pilot regional 'evidence cluster', working with CVAN South East, and will launch the overall Sector Report based on TAA data here next month.

Crafts Council Study - The Market for Craft

In the context of increasing focus on alternative funding and economies for the arts, CVAN is partnering with the Crafts Council on a commissioned report to identify and exploit opportunities for UK craft businesses to increase sales of craft goods. This is currently in the tender stage and we will be calling for evidence from our networks to inform the study on how visual arts interact with the crafts market while learning more about how we can open out potential markets for visual arts.

Arts Council England: 10 Year Draft Strategy

Consultation on Draft Strategy is open until 23 September 2019.

You can look at the evidence base here.

What Next and the Cultural Learning Alliance have pasted the questions into a document here

CVAN will be responding and we’re interested in your views! Please read the questions and send us your response to any which you feel particularly strongly about. We will be convening a small group to work collaboratively on the CVAN response - the deadline is tight so please share ASAP!

The draft strategy identifies a number of issues making up the 'case for change', including:

  • How differently arts and culture are understood across the population, and widespread socio-economic and geographic variances in participation in publicly funded culture.

  • Lack of diversity across the creative industries remains an issue.

  • Business models are often fragile, the sector lacks flexibility, faces challenges in relating to the digital economy, and is generally in retreat from innovation.

The consultation also highlighted many innovative and successful initiatives across its sectors and intends to enable creative practitioners and cultural organisations to respond to what lies ahead and 'shape it for the better'. There's a strong implication that funding levels will increasingly rest on evidence of reach and impact, and that data will be key in building and sharing a more sophisticated picture of investment at a local level. This is to operate more effectively as an expert and strategic national development agency.

The strategy is built around 3 outcomes: individual creativity; the role of culture in shaping the places where we live, work, learn and visit; and the type of professional cultural sector we think will be needed over the next decade. Investment will follow three key principles:

  • Ambition and quality

  • Inclusivity and relevance

  • Dynamism and sustainability

There's a strong focus on supporting arts education - on creating opportunities for children and young people, both inside and outside of schools, as well as with local cultural institutions. There's also a strong focus on internationalism and free movement of talent, but little detail on how this fits with the drift of immigration policy. Diversity is defined to include socio-economic background as well as protected characteristics, promising a new framework which will set targets.

Culture and creativity are foregrounded, as opposed to more traditional terms such as 'arts' and 'heritage' - this is a shift I think we were all expecting and discussion is already ongoing as to how this relates to 'excellence' in visual arts production. The strategy talks about the need to create and share high quality culture:

"At times, this may require challenging conversations and difficult choices. It is our job to ensure that any organisation in receipt of public investment delivers the best possible value to the public – including the Arts Council itself."

Portfolio organisations will be asked to demonstrate how they are listening to the voices of the public and local partners.

There's much emphasis on more integration between publically funded sectors and creative industries and on how new distribution models and technologies can address uneven cultural provision across the country as well as on building capacity through local programmes and touring.

"By 2030 we anticipate that we will be investing in organisations and people that differ, in many cases, from those that we support today. Some will be members of our current National Portfolio that have evolved to meet the future needs of audiences and artists. Others will be new to us."

CVAN is preparing for challenging times ahead!

The Policy Landscape:

Meanwhile, as if UK politics weren't already confusing enough, we have a new Government… for a while… The new lineup for DCMS from 31 July is:

  • Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

  • Nigel Adams, Minister for Sport, Media and Creative Industries

  • Baroness Barran, Civil Society and DCMS Lords Minister

  • Rebecca Pow, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism

  • Matt Warman, Minister for Digital and Broadband

Following celebrated advice to apply to Mr Blobby for elucidation of Brexit, there's not much to say. We will continue to follow events and provide information and we will look at providing support to navigate Brexit as the smoke clears after All Hallows Eve.

CIF has published its report on Public Investment Public Gain: How public investment in the arts generates economic value across the creative industries and beyond which outlines how public investment into the UK’s arts and culture unlocks social, reputational and economic value throughout the creative industries and beyond. In 2016, arts and culture contributed approximately £17bn turnover to the UK economy - a 7.9% increase since 2015. For every £1 GVA generated by arts and culture, an additional £1.14 of GVA is generated in the wider economy. In 2016, the arts and culture industry employed 137,250 people in the UK.

CIF's priorities for the coming year will be:

  • Global talent

  • Creative education

  • Public investment in the creative industries

Policy Evidence Base

CVAN is delighted to be a partner in the new Centre for Cultural Value led by Leeds University. The Centre is dedicated to exploring the impacts that the arts and culture have on people, and more broadly on society. It aims to promote an evidence-based approach to cultural policy and planning, and to impact evaluation. It will focus on the following main questions:

  • Why do arts and culture matter?

  • What difference do they make to people’s lives?

  • How can we evidence their impacts on individuals and communities?

It will also offer £200,000 in seed funding to arts and cultural organisations to engage in action research related to their own questions of cultural value. The programme will launch early next year.

The Policy Evidence Centre (PEC) is consulting on research priorities and is taking recommendations from policy-makers, industry and researchers. CVAN has a relationship with PEC and will be responding. Please send us your input on areas where we need better evidence to inform sector development - or you can respond directly to the survey here.

Migration Policy

The twists and turns of Brexit are hard to keep up with but you may remember previous discussion here of the White Paper intended to update the UK's immigration regime post-Brexit? As you may have noticed, we have a new PM and a new Cabinet - Johnson has indicated a radical review of the immigration system with rather more liberal noises being made but it's not yet clear what this might mean on the ground other than that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been asked to review the Australian points-based system.

Whilst the original White Paper pointed to including EU nationals into an existing non-EU immigration system, a points-based system could look very different in foregrounding specific skills and characteristics rather than being based on employer sponsorship. This might be good news for micro-organisations who lack resources to sponsor employees or whose workforce is largely freelance - as in most of the creative industries. However, a new points-based system might co-exist with the existing employer-led framework - in which case CIF is suggesting a possible 'umbrella' scheme where sector bodies could sponsor freelancers to relieve this burden for creative organisations - which CVAN would support for the visual arts sector. We will obviously be following developments and working with CIF's working groups and Whats Next to argue for as liberal scheme as possible and one which does not disadvantage the visual arts. We are also supporting calls for a reduction in the salary threshholds which are unreasonably high for our sector as well as easing T4 provisions for post-study work visas.

CVAN is involved in CIF's working groups addressing these issues - if you would like to help gather useful case studies, please get in touch with CVAN for more details.

Diversity in Creative Industries

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Creative Diversity launched last week with a mission to establish effective practices for the creative sector in its approach to recruiting, retaining and developing diverse talent and provide recommendations for industry and government.

CVAN already works closely with APDIG which represents design, innovation, and visual arts, in addition to the APPG for Art, Craft and Design in Education. We welcome this focus on diversifying the creative industries. The visual arts sector should be a leader in this respect and CVAN is currently developing our programme for addressing barriers to more diverse participation in the visual arts economy.

DfE Consultation on Higher Technical Education

The HTE Consultation is open until 29 September

This is a very technical consultation on proposals to address challenges arising out of a review of this scheme. The scheme throws up various issues for the creative sector ranging from a lack of pathways to difficulties for the small and micro organisations characteristic of the creative industries to participate.

CVAN has been participating in toolkit development for Visual Arts with CCSkills and will be hosting toolkits relevant to the Visual Arts in future.

Tourism Sector Deal

Visual Arts plays a significant role in the UK tourist industry and we would like to support CIF in ensuring that it is represented in the Sector Deal.

Issues being considered include data-sharing, skills, transport links, development of regional tourist offerings including the 'long tail' of micro- and small businesses in the sector. We welcome inputs from our network on what sort of support the Visual Arts sector might need to maximise its impact on London and regional tourist industries.

Spending Review

This has been an extremely moveable feast this time - but will have to fix soon. CVAN is working with APDIG as our recommendations will rest on evidence from our recent Visual Arts as a Global Force consultations.

Don’t worry - be happy!

Have a wonderful Summer break everyone.