An open letter on the value of creative education

The Creative Industries Federation has published an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, on the value of creative education, and the urgency needed to advocate for all young people to have access to creative education. Over 150 signatories from across the creative industries, and beyond, have signed the letter.

Richard Freeman, CEO of always possible, has signed it on behalf of the organisation’s staff and associates.

The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP
Department for Education
20 Great Smith Street

Dear Secretary of State,

Access to high-quality creative education for all is critical for our young people, for the success of our £101.5bn creative industries, and for the health of the economy at large.

We are deeply concerned by the falling numbers of young people studying creative subjects at school. While Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland recognise the importance of creative education by ensuring it remains on the school curriculum, the English system continues to sideline it by excluding creative subjects from the EBacc(1). There has been an 8% drop in the number of students taking GCSEs in creative subjects since 2014/15. The Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA) has estimated that the take up of arts courses alone at GCSE level has fallen by 35% since 2010(2), while the BPI has highlighted the growing disparity between the provision of music in state and independent schools(3). The National Education Union has reported a 20% drop in contact time in Drama, Art, Music, Design and Technology, and Dance for KS3 students. The damaging impact of these reductions must not be underestimated.

Creative education is critical for the individual 
Studying creative subjects positively impacts young people’s wellbeing, their development, and future opportunities(4). Research from the CLA has shown that children who study art are more employable once they have finished studying, and more likely to keep a job once employed(5 6). Taking arts subjects can improve a young person’s cognitive abilities by up to 17%, and even means that young people see improved attainment in English and Maths(7).

Access to creative education is particularly important for children from low-income backgrounds who may only have opportunities to engage with arts and culture through their schools. Studies show that children who do not have access to arts and culture are at a disadvantage both economically and educationally in comparison with those that do(8). A system which means that only more privileged young people are able to access arts and culture does a disservice both to those young people who suffer as a result, and to a society that believes in the importance of social mobility and equality of opportunity.

Creative education is critical for the creative industries
Ensuring young people have access to creative education is vital if the country is to maintain a resilient talent pipeline for the creative industries, the fastest-growing sector in the UK economy.

The creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the UK economy, and employ more than 2 million people. Jobs in the sector are growing at three times the UK average, and analysis by Nesta outlines that with proper investment an additional one million jobs could be created by 2030. But it is estimated that there are more than 77,000 roles that are unfilled or which require additional skills. An education system lacking creative subjects won’t equip young people to enter into self-employed careers (a third of the sector’s workforce) yet the future success of the sector relies on this generation to be the next wave of creators, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Put simply, devaluing creative education for young people will threaten the pipeline of exceptional creative talent which has secured the UK’s creative industries as world-leading.

Creative education is critical for the whole economy
The value of creative education, at all levels and throughout people’s lives, extends well beyond those who go on to work directly in the creative industries. For example, engagement with arts and culture corresponds with a dramatic drop in ex-prisoners reoffending(9), improved nutrition and a dramatic increase in general wellbeing(10), as well as many other benefits.

Higher education institutions understand the value creative education brings to higher levels of study, regardless of whether the learner continues to study a creative subject or otherwise. For example, The Russell Group dropped its list of “facilitating subjects”(11) and recommends that universities “may prefer applicants to have studied a variety of subjects, [including] art, English, music for STEM degrees”(12).

Studying creative subjects develops highly transferable skills that are essential for careers across the economy, such as creative thinking, problem-solving, generating imaginative and innovative ideas, persuasive communication and more. Analysis by Nesta has shown that 87% of creative roles are resistant to automation and a report by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre shows that ‘creativity’ (as a skill) is consistently the most significant predictor for an occupation’s growth(13 14). This means that a creative workforce is one that is resilient, fit for the future, and non-negotiable for the health of our economy.

For the benefit of the whole of the UK, we urge government to incentivise a broad and balanced curriculum within schools. This should incorporate strong representation of creative subjects, creative and cultural engagement through the wider curriculum and opportunities for all young people to take part in creative activities. We call for either the discontinuation of the EBacc, or its broadening to include creative subjects, and for government to ensure that schools are well resourced to deliver these subjects. It is also crucial that young people and those advising them have better access to high-quality advice about creative careers and how to pursue them. Programmes like the industry-led, government-backed Creative Careers Programme, which will reach 2 million young people with better careers advice, remain vital.

Yours sincerely,

Rick Haythornthwaite, Chair, Creative Industries Federation on behalf of:

Adwoa Aboah, Model

Abdullkareem Alawiye, CEO, Hoobartechnology

Kathleen Alder Long, Founder and Director, WildKat PR

Sian Alexander, Executive Director, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Fiona Allan, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Birmingham Hippodrome

Ella d’Amato, Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer, notonthehighstreet

Imran Amed, Founder & CEO, The Business of Fashion

Sharon Ament, Director, Museum of London

Jonathan Anderson, Designer

Steve Andre, CEO, Spirit AI

Deborah Annetts, CEO, ISM

Paul Appleby, Director, Bristol Media

Jonty Archibald, Principal, Global Academy

Alexander Armstrong, Television and Radio Presenter

Elizabeth Atherton, Soprano

Paul Bainsfair, Director General, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising

Diane Banks, CEO, Northbank Talent Management

Rose Barnecu, Director of FEAST, Creative Kernow

Prof Steven Barnett, Professor of Communications, Westminster School of Media and Communication, University of Westminster

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Author of the Independent Review of the Creative Industries

Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House

Jason Beaumont, CEO, Access Creative College

Georgina Bednar. Founder, No Ordinary Experience

Hilary Beecroft, Founder and Co-Director, BCre8ive

Dr Garfield Benjamin, Researcher in Creative Media and Digital Culture, Solent University

Mandy Berry, Chair, Miracle Theatre

Tim Bevan, Co-Chairman of Working Title Films

Zarina Bhimji, Photographer

Cat Bagg, Director, Field Notes CIC

Julian Bird, Chief Executive – Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre Association.

Alice Black, Director, Design Museum

Tim Blanks, Editor-at -Large, The Business of Fashion

Iwona Blazwick, OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery

Thomas Blunt, Conductor

Katherine Bond, Director, Cultural Institute, King’s College London

Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury

Sandra Booth, Director of Policy and External Relations, CHEAD

Achim Borchardt-Hume, Director of Exhibitions and Programme, Tate Modern

Sue Bowerman, Director, Blanket and Senior Lecturer in Radio, The University of West London

Stephen Boyd Davis, Professor of Design Research, Royal College of Art

Kevin Brennan MP

Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal & Chief Executive, Plymouth College of Art

Wozzy Brewster, OBE FRSA, Founder and Executive Director, The Midi Music Company & Artist Manager, United Vibrations & Chainska Brassika

Zowie Broach, Head of Fashion, Royal College of Art

Jeremy Brown, Cultural Destinations Isles of Scilly

Jane Bryant, Chief Executive, ARTSWORK

Dr Katie Bunnell, Whitegold Project, St Austell Bay Economic Forum

Lisa Burger, Joint Chief Executive, National Theatre

Paul Burger, Founder, SohoArtists and Governor, The BRIT School

Pauline Burt, CEO, Ffilm Cymru Wales

Clemency Burton-Hill, Broadcaster

Dr Virginia Button, Writer, Curator and Academic Consultant

Jamie Byng, CEO, Canongate Books, and Director/Producer, Letters Live

Lucy Byrne, Managing Director, dot-art

Emily Campbell, Director of Programmes, Creative Education Trust

JC Candanedo, Photographer

Simon Cane, Executive Director, UCL Culture, UCL

Professor Anne Carlisle OBE, Vice-Chancellor, Falmouth University

Rebecca Carr, Creative Director, Kaizen Arts CIC

Sir Nigel Carrington, Vice Chancellor, UAL

Laura Carroll, Managing Director, DS.Emotion

Stephen Cavalier, Animation Director, Cav Films Ltd

Professor Daniel Charny, Founder director, FixEd and Professor of Design, Kingston School of Art

Martin Clark, Director, Camden Arts Centre

Lord Clement-Jones CBE, House of Lords

James Clutton, Director of Opera, Opera Holland Park

Dr Tim Coker, Artistic Director, Rugby School

Jamie Coleman, Founder, CodeBase

Clare Connor, Chief Executive, The Place

Neil Constable, CEO, Shakespeare’s Globe

Andy Cook, Acting Vice Chancellor, Ravensbourne University London

Professor Frances Corner OBE, Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London

Nick Corston, Co-founder and CEO, STEAM Co.

Prof Eric Cross, Emeritus Professor of Music & Culture, Newcastle University

Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance

Anna Cutler, Director of Learning and Research, Tate

Sevra Davis, Head of Learning, Design Museum

Marcia Deakin, Next Gen Skills Academy

Jeremy Deller, Artist

Professor Yavuz Demir, Nisantasi University, Turkey

Dr Stephen Deuchar CBE, Art Fund director

Nicky Dewar, Head of Learning and Talent Development, Crafts Council

Mimi Doulton, Development Officer, Action for Children’s Arts

Professor Linda Drew, former Vice Chancellor, Ravensbourne University London (2015-19)

Nick Dunmur, Business & Legal Adviser, Association of Photographers

Dr Katherine Dyson, Inside Outside Music Group

Alex Eagle, Founder, Alex Eagle and Creative Director, The Store

Inua Ellams, Writer, FRSL

Andrew Ellis, Director, Art UK

Ben Evans, CBE, Co-Founder of London Design Festival

Susannah Frankel, Editor-in-Chief, AnOther Magazine

Dr Shiva Feshareki

Eric Fellner, Co-Chairman of Working Title Films and Chair of Into Film

Deirdre Figueiredo, MBE. Craftspace

Jane Finnis, CEO, Culture24

Philip Flood, Director, Sound Connections

Lord Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners

Simon Fox, Director, Simon Fox Education

Richard Freeman FRSA – CEO, always possible

Alex Fury, Fashion Features Director, AnOther Magazine

Patrick Gale, Novelist & Screenwriter

Henry Garfit, Director/Founder, Newlyn School of Art

Malcolm Garrett, Creative Director, Design Manchester

Paula Graham Gazzard, Director, Contemporary Visual Arts Network

Maria Georgiou, Freelance Creative, Consultant Profiles Creative

Bryony Gillard, Artist

Liam Gillick, Artist

Emma Gladstone, Artistic Director & Chief Executive, Dance Umbrella

Google Arts and Culture

Howard Goodall CBE

Dr Ceri Gorton, Co-director, Bird & Gorton

Kasper de Graaf, Partnerships Director, Design Manchester

Katie Grand, Editor-in-Chief, LOVE Magazine

James Green, Director, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange

Paul Greengrass, Film Director

Michele Gregson, General Secretary, NSEAD

Jefferson Hack, CEO and Co-Founder, Dazed Media

Peter Harvey, Baritone

Neil Hatton, Chief Executive, UK Screen Alliance

Dr Penny Hay FRSA FHEA Research Fellow, Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries, Senior Lecturer in Arts Education, School of Education, Bath Spa University

Imogen Heap, Singer

Sir Lenny Henry

Olivia Hetreed, Writer/Director, Sympathetic Ink Ltd

Harry Hickmore, Head of Development and Communications, Wilton’s Music Hall

Dr Shaun Hides, Academic Dean Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Coventry University

Peter Higgin, Director of Enrichment (CEO), Punchdrunk

Angela Hill, Co-Founder, Idea Books

Nigel Hinds OBE, Executive Producer, 14-18 NOW

Adam Holloway, Director, Cheshire Dance

Toby Hopkins, Chair, British Association of Picture Libraries & Agencies

John Horner, Managing Director, Models1

Dr Sue Horner

Ben Houlihan, Head of Quality & Teaching Development, Bridgwater & Taunton College

Jayne Howard, Director, Arts Well UK CIC

Andrew Hurst, Chief Executive, One Dance UK

Amir Hussain, CoE (Chief of Everything), Yeme Architects

Chris Hyde, Director of Creative Industries, Activate Learning Group

Melanie Iredale, Interim Director, Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Vicky Ireland MBE, Chair, Action for Children’s Arts

Celia Jackson, Senior Lecturer, Photography, University of South Wales

Will Jackson, Managing Director, AudioUK

JBR, Company Director, JBR Creative Management

Natalie Jode, Executive Director, Creative Arts East

Dylan Jones OBE, Editor-in-Chief of British GQ

Professor Janet Jones, Dean, Arts and Creative Industries, London South Bank University

Professor Vivien Jones, Chair, Cultural Institute, University of Leeds

Tim Jones, Culture Mile Manager

Sally Joynson, Chief Executive, Screen Yorkshire

Edward Kemp, Director, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican

Daniel Kidane, Composer

Kanya King CBE, Founder of MOBO

David Kingsmill, Writer and Podcaster

Jayne Kirkham, Writer

Greg Klerkx, Director, Nimble Fish

Jessica Koravos, President, The Really Useful Group

Tanya Krzywinska, Professor, Falmouth University

Seetha Kumar, CEO, Screenskills

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director, Young Vic

Baroness Lane-Fox CBE, Founder,

Kirsty Lang, Arts Broadcaster and Chair of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead

Prof John Last, Vice-Chancellor, Norwich University of the Arts and Chair, Ukadia

Dr Zoe Laughlin, Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Making, UCL

Angela Law, Director, Every Sense

Christopher Le Brun, President, Royal Academy of Arts

Jonty Lees, Director, Pool School Gallery CIC

Amanda Levete, Founder and Principal, A_LA

Gerald Lidstone Director, ICCE Goldsmiths University of London

Tim Lindsay, CEO, D&AD

John Lochland, Academic Lead: Media, University of Portsmouth

Stephen Loges, Bass-Baritone

Bruno Maag, Chairman, Dalton Maag Ltd

Heather MacRae, Managing Director, The Ideas Foundation

Rod Manley, Chief Marketing Officer, Burberry

Dr Mark Mann RTTP, Innovation Lead, Humanities & Social Sciences, Oxford University Innovation

Sally Manser, Head of Royal Opera House Bridge Programme, Royal Opera House

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North

Penny Martin, Editor-in-Chief, The Gentlewoman

Dame Natalie Massenet, Co-founder, Imaginary Ventures & Non-executive Co-chairman, Farfetch

Barbara Matthews, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Art, Architecture, Design and Humanities at Nottingham Trent University

Dr Joanna Mayes, Director, Mayes Creative

Christoph Mayr, Artist Manager, Rayfield Allied

Miriam McClay, Newent Community School

Paul McCreesh, Conductor Gabrieli / Gabrieli Roar

Kathryn McDowell, CBE DL, Managing Director, London Symphony Orchestra

Jill McKinney, Head of Skills, Sunderland Software City

Professor Sean McNamara FRSA, Head of Guildford School of Acting, Chair of the Federation of Drama Schools, Professor in Conservatoire Training, University of Surrey

Professor Linda Merrick, Principal, Royal Northern College of Music

Adam Milford, Theatre Workout

Sarah Miller, Director, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation

Gillian Moore CBE, Director of Music, Southbank Centre

Liz Moran, Director of Arts and Culture and Co-Director Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries, University of Kent

Jon Morgan, Director, Theatres Trust

Professor Olwen Moseley, FHEA Dean, Cardiff School of Art & Design

Dave Moutrey, CEO, HOME and Director of Culture, MCC

Sarah Mower, Ambassador for Emerging Talent, British Fashion Council

Professor Damian Murphy, Research Theme Champion for Creativity, Director of XR Stories, University of York

Stuart Murphy, Chief Executive, ENO

Pam Myers, Creative Director, Rorschach Ltd.

Rufus Norris, Joint Chief Executive, National Theatre

David Owen, Co-Founder, Idea Books

Dr. Nick Owen MBE, CEO, The Mighty Creatives

Paul Pacifico, CEO, Association of Independent Music

Ann Packard FRSA HonFRIAS

Phil Parker, Founder and Director, bCre8ive

Andy Payne OBE, Founder of Appynation

Mark Pemberton, Director, ABO

Jonny Persey, Director, MetFilm School

Sally Phillips, Actor and Writer

Fern Potter, Director of Development, Birmingham Royal Ballet

Dr Ellen Pruyne

Jacky Rattue

Ben Rayfield, Managing Director, Rayfield Allied

Baroness Gail Rebuck DBE

Paul Reeve, Chief Executive, Into Film

JC Reid, Co founder, Skint Records

Darren Richards, Creative Director, Graphic Alliance

Natalie Richardson, Producer, Konzept Arts & Ideas

Philippa Richardson, Head of Marketing & Communications, Knight Dragon Ltd

Professor Kate Rigby, Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities, Bath Spa University

Bridget Riley, Artist

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director, English National Ballet

Malcolm Ross, Professor of Aesthetic Education, University of Wolverhampton

Samuel Ross, Designer, A-Cold-Wall*

David Ruebain, Chief Executive Officer, Conservatoire for Dance and Drama

Axel Rüger, Secretary and Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Arts

Caroline Rush CBE, Chief Executive, British Fashion Council

Dr Andy Salmon, Pro-Vice Chancellor External & Executive Dean, College of Liberal Arts, Bath Spa University

Rebecca Salter RA, Keeper of the Royal Academy

Dipl.-Ing. Arch. Sabine Coady Schäbitz, Associate Professor, School of Art and Design, Coventry University

Bill Scott, Artistic Director, Miracle Theatre

Julian Scott, CEO, Julian Scott Associates

Russ Shaw, Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates

David Shelley, CEO, Hachette

Julia Skelton, Executive Director, Mind the Gap

Amy Smith, Head of Talent, Framestore

Bob and Roberta Smith, Artist

Jesse Leroy Smith, Artist, Curator and Mentor

Michael Smith, Executive Chair, National Campaign for the Arts

Nicola Soloman, Chief Executive, Society of Authors

Sir John Sorrell CBE, Founder, Creative Industries Federation

Alistair Spalding CBE, Artistic Director, and Chief Executive, Sadler’s Wells

Philippa Spoerry, Nottingham Trent University

Patrick Spottiswoode, Director, Globe Education

Michael Stewart, Founding Director, Open City Documentary Festival

Johannes von Stumm, Past President Royal Society of Sculptors, President Oxford Art Society, President Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire, Founding Member of Sculpture Network (Europe)

Deyan Sudjic OBE, Director, Design Museum

Dr Cindy Sughrue OBE, Director, Charles Dickens Museum

John Summers, Chief Executive, Hallé Orchestra

Jane Sutherland, Director, Cultivator

Adrian Sutton, Composer

Sam Taylor-Johnson, Filmmaker

Jayne Thompson, Head of Drama, University of Kent

David Thornhill, Creative Director, Ampersandesign

Mo Tomaney, Director, Wise Birds Network Limited

Rachel Triggs

Owen Turner (MCSD), Managing Director, United by Design

Carole-Anne Upton, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Middlesex University

Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP

Jessica Voorsanger, Artist

John Waite, Group Curriculum Director, Creative Industries, ICT & Digital, New City College Group

Timothy Walker, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, London Philharmonic Orchestra

Simon Wallis, Director, The Hepworth Wakefield

Sharon Walpole, Director, Careermap

Julie Ward MEP, Vice Chair Culture & Education Committee, European Parliament

Dr Stephanie Ward, Yarn Innovation Designer, Steffi Design

Dr Jon Wardle, Director, National Film and Television School

Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

Gillian Wearing, Artist

Judith Webster, Chief Executive, Music for Youth

Sarah Weir OBE, Chief Executive, Design Council

Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK

Julie Whelan, CEO, Nordoff Robbins

Jasmine Whitbread, CEO, London First

Carole White, Co-Founder, Premier Model Management

Kate White, CEO, National Centre for Circus Arts

Phil White, CEO, upstage

Emma Wilcox, Project Director, Creative Estuary, University of Kent

Luke Wilcox, Head of Content, D&AD Festival, D&AD

Lynne Williams, Principal, Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Evelyn Wilson, Director, The Culture Capital Exchange (TCCE)

Vanessa Wilson, CEO, University Alliance

Will Wollen, Director of Employability (Arts), University of Kent

Stuart Worden, Principal, The BRIT School

Laura Worsfold, Chief Executive Officer, Severn Arts

Jo Wright, Chair, Sound City Liverpool

Dr Gillian Youngs, Professor of Creative and Digital Economy, Dean of Arts and Humanities and Institutional Lead for Arts, Culture and Creative Industries, Canterbury Christchurch University.

Andria Zafirakou, 2018 Global Teacher Prize winner

Sabine Zetteler, Director, Zetteler

always possible

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