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Commission says arts & creativity is being squeezed out of schools particularly for low-income families

bannerA major report published today Tuesday 17th February 2015, entitled Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth, argues that the concept of creativity is being squeezed out of public education, closing off creative opportunities and cultural experiences to young people. And in particular children that are born into low-income families.

The report is by a special commission led by the University of Warwick about the value of culture to contemporary British society, and involving both cultural leaders and academic experts. Among its findings on the arts and education the University of Warwick commission’s report notes that:

· Children born into low-income families with low levels of educational qualifications are the least likely to: be employed and succeed in the Cultural and Creative Industries; engage with and appreciate the arts and heritage in the curriculum; experience culture as part of their home education and have parents who value and identify with publically funded arts and heritage.

· Research by the Sutton Trust indicates that 76% of parents say that their children regularly participate in extra-curricular activities. However, there are often significant costs associated with extra-curricular creative and cultural opportunities, which put them beyond reach for low-income families in particular - 22% of parents in the higher social groups pay £500 plus a year on these activities compared to 10% of parents in middle and lower groups.

· In England, there has been a significant decline in the number of state schools offering arts subjects taught by specialist teachers. Since 2010 the number of arts teachers in schools has fallen by up to 11%, Design and Technology has 11% fewer teachers and hours of teaching, Drama 8% fewer teachers and 4% fewer hours taught (these hours include teaching time from non-specialists); Art & Design teachers have reduced by 4% with a decline of 6% in teaching hours

· Policymakers are often obsessed with a silo subject-based curriculum and early specialisation in sciences or the arts that ignores and obscures discussion around the future need for all children to enjoy an education that encourages creativity, enterprise and digital innovation across the curriculum.

To address these perceived issues the Warwick Commission recommends that:

· OfSTED, the official government body for inspecting schools, should not designate a school as being ‘outstanding’ without evidence of an excellent cultural and creative education. A lack of cultural and creative opportunities within the curriculum and beyond should be reported on and be raised as a matter of concern.

· The Arts Council England target of 50% schools having an ArtsMark award should be supported and encouraged by OfSTED and the Department for Education. An arts or media subject should be included in the English Baccalaureate, improving the visibility of the arts and increasing incentives for young people to combine science and arts subjects at Key Stage 4.

· The Ofsted inspection framework should require schools to provide an embedded cultural education for all children up to the age of 16, allowing governors, parents and trustees to hold headteachers responsible for this provision.

· Government should provide an Arts and Culture Pupil Premium to match the current £45m PE/Sport premium so as to increase the choices for our most disadvantaged and culturally disenfranchised children.

· The DfE and OfSTED must ensure that all children up to the age of 16 receive a cultural education in order to ensure their life-long engagement and enjoyment as audiences and makers of our creative and cultural world. In addition, policymakers and educators should do their utmost to give young people at all stages of the education system exposure to the multi-disciplinary mix of science, technology, arts, humanities and enterprise that underpins creative success in the UK.

· The DfE, BIS and DCMS should work with the Creative Industries Federation to develop a national grid of providers to ensure that all children can freely access and learn from local opportunities for artistic and creative extra-curricular activities.

· Government must ensure that appropriate access to training for Creative and Cultural Industries programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level

· There should be a national Creative Apprenticeship Scheme, delivered by a single combined Sector Skills Council covering the Cultural and Creative Industries and linked to the National Plan, and with more detailed and robust data on pipeline supply of creative talent. This scheme would rationalise and scale up existing initiatives by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, Arts Council England and current sector skills councils.

· DfE and BIS must ensure that there is adequate careers advice available to those interested in pursuing a career in the Cultural and Creative Industries. The new careers and enterprise company recently announced by the Department for Education must work together with the Cultural and Creative Industries to support teachers and careers advisors in providing guidance and inspiration to young people

 Commission member and University of Warwick education researcher Professor Jonothan Neelands said:

“We are concerned that the educational system as a whole is not focussing on the future needs of the Cultural and Creative Industries and the broader needs of a creative and successful UK. This needs to be addressed across our schools however we are particularly concerned that children born into low-income families with low levels of educational qualifications are the least likely to: be employed and succeed in the Cultural and Creative Industries; engage with and appreciate the arts and heritage in the curriculum; experience culture as part of their home education

"Without educational intervention we are in danger of allowing a two-tier creative and cultural ecosystem in which the most advantaged in social and economic terms are also the most advantaged in benefitting economically, socially and personally from the full range of experiences and value in that prevailing system. “

Introducing the report, the Commission’s Chair, Vikki Heywood CBE said:

“We began our work by asking what is meant by cultural value. The answer is that the value of culture is both social and economic: it enriches us as individuals, brings us together as a society, and is the foundation of a creative economy that will secure the country’s future”.

Alex Beard CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Opera House said:

“Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth is an important, timely report that underlines the tremendous value and potential of culture and the creative industries within society. It contains a wealth of thoughtful recommendations – practical ways in which organisations, funders and policy-makers can work together to tackle inequality, ensure a steady and more diverse flow of talent, and realise the potential role of culture within place-making”

Melvyn Bragg said:

“This report is thorough, positive and timely. We are riding on past investment in the creative economy and urgently need to re-direct our energies so that the next generation can be as acceleratingly successful as the last one was.

Very glad to see schools and education are mentioned so strongly. In my view, investment in the creative arts in schools is the key to the lives of so many people in this country, and to the richer life of the country itself.”

Tony Hall, BBC Director General said:

“I welcome the findings of this report. The UK is a powerhouse of creativity, talent and ideas and, as the Warwick Commission sets out, the BBC has a vital role to play.

I want us to work with others like never before to educate and inspire everybody. Later this week, we'll be helping to launch the biggest campaign we've ever had to raise the profile of the arts in our country. It's a new way for everyone to get creative, one of the Commission's key Recommendations.

"Our expertise, the passion of our teams, and the unparalleled reach of our services at a local and national level, mean we're uniquely placed to make a difference. Everything we do is designed to ensure that every one of us has the same opportunities to benefit from our cultural inheritance.

The Commission's Report is a blueprint for the continued success of arts and culture in Britain. It's written for everyone - right across our industry and in every walk of life - and I join with its authors in calling for all of those who have a part to play to give themselves permission to believe in a better future for the arts. Its conclusions will help us all deliver that vision.”

Sir Richard Eyre, Film, theatre, television and opera director said:

"All things being equal, the choice of going to opera or ballet or theatre or galleries or bookshops is a free one, open to everyone. But all things aren’t equal: the “choice” of going to the theatre or the opera or an art gallery is a choice that doesn’t exist for vast numbers of people in this country, who, if they feel anything at all about art, feel disenfranchised. This distinction — between those who enjoy the arts and those who feel excluded from them — amounts to an absolute divide. It should be the duty of any government to bridge this divide, by embracing the departments of culture and of education and investing in the audiences of the future as well as the artists. This important report makes an irrefutable argument for creating a coherent government policy for encouraging all aspects of the arts."

Alice Rawsthorn, Design Critic, International New York Times said:

“Culture and creativity are among our greatest national assets, which have enriched our economy and wellbeing for centuries, and continue to do so today. By analysing the current strengths and weaknesses of the cultural and creative sectors and suggesting how they can be sustained and expanded, the Warwick Commission Report identifies how everyone in the UK can derive even greater benefit from them in future."

Bob and Roberta Smith, artist said:

“The Warwick Commission Report presents the possibility for a new architecture for how we understand the Arts. In the 21st Century C.P Snow's 'Two cultures' distinction has been made irrelevant by the emergence of the power of digital technology.

Two statistics jump from the report which cry out for change, firstly the 50% decline in children choosing Design and Technology between 2003 and 2013 and secondly, that in 2013, the Cultural Industries contributed 76.9 Billion to the economy. We must totally overhaul the importance of Art, Design, Dance, Craft and Drama, and teach them in a more contemporary and computer literate way to every child so that we do NOT deny our young people access to a 76.9 Billion economy.

The report importantly demands change of Arts institutions themselves. If we do not make audiences look more like taxpayers we undermine the great work everyone is doing.

Almost 100 years ago the Bauhaus emerged out of the ruins of Europe to develop a new, modernist language in which developments in technology were to thrive. Digital technology presents a similar seismic revolution. This fascinating and detailed report requires that all involved in the Arts and Government act to imagine and design the future and that everyone is involved in this fruitful negotiation.”

Deyan Sudjic, Director, Design Museum said:

​"The Warwick Commission Report matters because its not simply cheerleading, or asking for more funding. It brings together the evidence to show how significant creativity is for British life, the British economy, and Britain's place in the world. It shows how much that creativity is dependent on a strong educational base at every level, and it shows how it generates investment, but also enriches lives. But it also challenges all of us involved in the creative economy to do better. It shows the danger of cutting ourselves off from those outside the traditional audience for what we do.”

Graham Sheffield CBE, Director Arts, British Council

The British Council welcomes the findings of the Warwick Commission. In particular, we welcome its rightful recognition of the significant role that culture and the creative industries have to play in our global standing.

The UK must, as the report suggests, continue investment in its creative and cultural industries. While the sector enjoys significant growth over and above many others in the UK, it is only through this support that we can continue to build and develop a sector that has the clout to compete in an increasingly competitive global landscape. Investment in UK artists and organisations in turn creates opportunities for them around the world, creating jobs in Britain and contributing to our long term prosperity. Whether through generating demand in new markets or building new collaborations, this is dependent on having a diverse and skilled sector.

It is vital, however, that we do not seek a quick international fix to simply meet our own needs. The greatest value comes from long-term relationships and mutual benefit, not a unilateral approach to exporting our culture. While many can learn from us, the UK can learn a great deal from the rest of the world in skills building, creative education and new ways of working.”

Baroness Rebuck, Chair of Penguin Random House/ Chair of Cheltenham Festivals

"From our fashion and films to our museums, music and books, British creative talent leads the world. With growth in our cultural industries now faster than any other sector, there has never been a more important time to examine how we ensure our creative ecosystem remains vibrant and internationally renowned.

This compelling analysis throws down a challenge to all those who value how culture enriches people's lives. Levels of access and participation still fail to reflect the rich diversity of our population. The role of public investment in nurturing talent must be defended and innovative private investment further encouraged. The greater contribution that culture could make to shaping the identity of cities and regions outside London also remains largely unrecognised.

Let the debate begin on how we turn the Warwick Commission's ambitious proposals for national creative renewal into reality."

John Mathers, CEO, Design Council said:

“The Design Council is delighted to partner on this important report. At a time when it is so important for us to lead as an ‘Ideas’ nation and with the Creative Industries sector seeing unparalleled growth it is vital that we safeguard our current position and continue to invest in the future”

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, RSA said:

“The Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value is an original and authoritative piece of work. It makes the case for a step change in our understanding of the contribution culture makes to our society and cogently lays out the steps we need urgently to take to secure and enhance that contribution.”

The following Commissioners said:

Sir Peter Bazalgette said:

“Two critical themes leap out of this welcome report – the importance of improving access to the arts and that culture and the creative industries are one entity. The reports proposals contain much welcome new thinking.”

Roly Keating, Chief Executive, British Library

“The Warwick Commission has provided a rare chance to look at the UK’s cultural life in the round – to examine what it takes to nurture a healthy system for everyone, not just a set of individual institutions or industries. The process itself has been thoughtful and creative, with memorable provocations that have actively advanced the debate in public. I look forward to the debates the Commission’s report is certain to stimulate.”

Note for Editors:

 Warwick Commission Membership


Vikki Heywood CBE (Chairman, RSA)


Tony Ageh OBE Controller, Digital Archive, BBC

Hasan Bakhshi MBE Director, Creative Industries, NESTA Policy and Research Unit

Sir Peter Bazalgette Chairman, Arts Council England

Damon Buffini Main Board Member, RSC; Founding Partner, Permira

Deborah Bull CBE Director, Cultural Partnerships, King’s College London

Dinah Caine CBE CEO, Creative Skillset

Professor Geoffrey Crossick Director, AHRC Cultural Value Project

Darren Henley CBE Managing Director, Classic FM

Roly Keating Chief Executive, The British Library

Dr David Lan Artistic Director, Young Vic; Chairman, What Next?

Ruth Mackenzie CBE Artistic Director, Holland Festival

Paul Roberts OBE Chair of the Board of trustees, Creativity, Culture and Education

Jenny Sealey MBE Artistic Director, Graeae

Sir Nicholas Serota Director, Tate

James Yarker Artistic Director, Stan’s Café

University of researchers supporting the Warwick Team

Dr Eleonora Belfiore Director of Study

Professor Jonothan Neelands Director of Study

Dr Catriona Firth Project Manager

Dr Natalie Hart Research Fellow

Background to the Warwick Commission

The Warwick Commission was established by the University of Warwick in 2007 with the aim of drawing on the scholarly expertise of Warwick academics as well as practitioners and policy makers to address issues of global importance.

In the best traditions of intellectual discovery, the Warwick Commissions are charged with carrying out independent analysis of a particular issue with the goal of making practical and realistic recommendations about how to move it forward.

The aim of the Commissions is to make thought provoking contributions to the debate thereby assisting policymakers to find solutions to sometimes seemingly intractable problems. The activities of the Commission and its reports are intended as an exercise in public policy informed by rigorous scholarly and analytical thinking.

For further information please contact:

Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Policy, University of Warwick, email:
Tel: +44 (0)24 76 523708 Mobile/Cell: +44 (0)7767 655860


The Warwick Commission

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chairman of Arts Council England, gives his thoughts on the impact of the Commission's new report:


For further information, please contact:

Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Policy, University of Warwick, email:
Tel: +44 (0)24 76 523708
Mobile/Cell: +44 (0)7767 655860