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 with some adding the voices in support of the letter:
Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP
“If the UK’s creative industries are to continue to be world-leading, we have to strengthen the talent pipeline and ensure creativity is at the heart of the curriculum. Studying the arts improves students’ grades across the board, too, and equips young people with the skills required in a future job market. After all, in a world of growing automation, creativity is what makes us human”
Lisa Burger and Rufus Norris, Joint Chief Executives, National Theatre
“The National Theatre works with over 4,000 schools across the country - those schools tell us that time and resource to deliver creative education is under incredible pressure. We strongly support the Creative Industries Federation’s recommendations, which echo the consistent, long-term message from the UK’s leading industries.
Creativity is not a ‘nice to have’. We need an education system fit for the future – and it must be one that champions this country’s creativity as the foundation of its economic and social health. As technology and politics change the landscape of industry, creative education helps young people develop futureproof skills that will benefit them whether they work in the Creative Industries, or beyond.”
Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North:
“Access to creative subjects as part of a fully rounded education should be every child and young person’s right. The creative industries are a vital part of the UK’s economy and culture, and the beating heart of our cities and regions, but creative industries rely on the talents and skills of trained creative people, as well as on audiences who are receptive, engaged and interested in the creative arts. Without creative subjects being properly valued and supported, both the future workforce and future audience for the arts is under threat.
Opera North currently works with over 2000 young people a week through our In Harmony and Youth Company schemes. Every day we see the potential for music and the arts to transform young people’s lives, develop skills and raise aspirations: we want every child in the country to have the same opportunity to access creative education.”
Dylan Jones OBE, Editor-in-Chief of British GQ
“Creativity is at the heart of the British experience. We produce more young creative people than any other country in the world, in music, art, tech, fashion, journalism. We have an innate gift to regenerate. The dreadful thing is that this has never been recognised by any Government - even the ones who professed an interest. Shame.”
Patrick Spottiswoode, Director, Globe Education
"It is incumbent on Government to consider how it can support creative education in UK schools. Arts organisations and funders can help, up to a point. Shakespeare’s Globe dedicates three week of performances in the Globe every year for free and subsidised performances for school and community groups. This is only possible because of the support we receive from Deutsche Bank. This year’s Romeo and Juliet and its supporting workshops, attracted record numbers. Over 25,000 free and subsidised tickets were taken up. Many teachers have advised us that the strain on school budgets would prevent them from bringing students without such free ticket scheme - thus depriving students of their only opportunity of seeing a Shakespeare play in production.”
Ella d’Amato, Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer, notonthehighstreet
"Creativity is at the heart of notonthehighstreet. The 5000 small creative businesses that sell with us (our Partners) delight our customers with unique designs and high-quality craftsmanship and together, since our launch in 2006, we’ve delivered over £600 million to the UK economy. Creative skills education in schools is critical to inspire the next generation of creative talent. We believe that the businesses which combine cutting edge technology with exceptional creativity are the ones that will grow and win in the coming years."
Edward Kemp, Director, RADA
"We are at a critical time for creative education. The abundance of our world-leading creative industries and its talent pipeline is being threatened by the declining numbers of young people taking creative subjects. In order to keep the UK’s world-leading status, we must act now to ensure that creative education in schools is available and accessible to all."
Emily Campbell, Director of Programmes, Creative Education Trust
“Lately, and among some policy makers, creativity has come under suspicion as being the opposite of rigour. Try that idea on a handful of great artists.”
Dr Zoe Laughlin, Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Making, UCL
“Innovation is a symptom of a diverse ecosystem of human activity. We need to do all we can to promote, nurture and support the richness of our educational culture in order to maintain the health of our all aspects of human endeavour.”
Sir Nigel Carrington, Vice Chancellor, UAL
“We are at a critical time for creative education. The exclusion of creative subjects from the EBacc has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of students studying creative subjects at school. We simply must accept that the EBacc needs to be abandoned or broadened to include creative subjects so that schools have an incentive to teach them and students understand their importance.”
Carole White, Co-Founder, Premier Model Management
“I do believe so much that the creative direction from Britain is so important and we as a country are famous for our innovative and creative style. The creative industry welcomes with open arms anyone from any walk of life who has talent. I agree it is very underestimated by government and schools. The industry has helped talented British people become the envy of the world. In other words, we are a desirable talented creative nation.”
Susannah Frankel, Editor-in-Chief AnOther Magazine
“I think the single most valuable thing a young person can do is an art foundation. It opens the mind in a way nothing else does and that applies to everyone, not just to those wishing to go on to become artists, fashion designers, art directors and so forth.”
Alex Eagle, Founder, Alex Eagle & Creative Director, The Store
“Our country needs three things: imagination, imagination, imagination!”
Rankin, Photographer, Founder of Hunger, Co-Founder of Dazed Media
“This country is at a crossroads. For the government to further diminish opportunities for the UK’s next generation by cutting its commitment to creative education is disgraceful. It really shows a misunderstanding of the importance the role that creativity plays in empowering youth and building inclusive communities. What message does this send to the next wave of artists, designers, musicians and film-makers? One of the UK’s biggest exports is its creative culture - we need to fight to hand the baton down so this continues.”
Harry Hickmore, Head of Development & Communications, Wilton’s Music Hall
“The figures and the teachers speak for themselves: creative education is vanishing.”
Daniel Kidane, Composer
“Our collective culture is a combination of what we create and what we allow. It is imperative that the disintegration of the UK's creative education system is not allowed! Young people from all backgrounds must have access to an enriched upbringing and we must invest now in our country's cultural future.”
Steve Andre, CEO, Spirit AI
"One of the most alarming things about the decline of creative education in the UK is the inevitable skills shortages that will come from it. The devaluation of creative education threatens the pipeline of creative talent that has put the UK on the map as world-leading in the creative industries"
Diane Banks, CEO, Northbank Talent Management
“In an age of automation, human capital - stories, ideas, personalities, opinion and the ability to curate – will be at the top of the value chain within a matter of years. It is vital that all of our workforce is equipped to think creatively, not only those working in the creative industries.”
Bob and Roberta Smith and Jessica Voorsanger
“It's vitally Important that the government do everything possible to reverse the decline of the provision of arts subjects in state education. We don't want to just hear from Middle class and wealthy kids who go to independent schools about their culture, everyone has culture and every child's voice must be heard. Art in schools is good for the economy but it's also essential for democracy, health, wellbeing and the quality of art itself. Art is a driver of social mobility. Art gives children the tools to speak up and act up enabling them to change the course of their lives. Give a child a blank sheet of paper and you ask that child to sing. Art is every human beings right.”
Nicola Soloman, Chief Executive, Society of Authors
“Creative education is essential for fostering an interest in the arts and culture, as well as cultivating the creators and innovators of the future. I am deeply concerned at the considerable drop in the number of pupils taking creative subjects in recent years.
Teaching creative subjects in schools ensures that all pupils have the opportunity to develop their creative skills. If we want our world-leading creative industries to continue to grow, it is vital that they attract a diverse range of talent from all sorts of backgrounds and not just a privileged few. Ensuring that creative subjects are taught in schools will be an important part of achieving this aim."
Tim Lindsay, CEO, D&AD
“The creative industries are the jewel in the UK’s business crown. Supplying them with talent starts with government education strategy, which is currently failing us. It needs your urgent attention Minister.”
Paul Reeve, Chief Executive, Into Film
“An entitlement to a creative education for all pupils has never been more important, not least in relation to the film industry. Film production in the UK is thriving, making a huge contribution to the economy, and with new studio facilities being built to keep pace with demand. Continued success and sustainability will be dependent on developing the skilled and diverse workforce of the future. That development needs to be founded on the experiences and skills that young people gain at school.”
Shaun Hides, Dean for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Coventry University
“As Academic Dean Faculty of Arts and Humanities, I would wish to emphasise the vital role that the creative industries play in the UK’s economic and cultural life. In order to secure the world pre-eminence and esteem they currently enjoy; and to ensure that we develop skills for the whole ‘future workforce’ we must rediscover the value of, and significantly improve, creative education in this country”
Andria Zafirakou, 2018 Global Teacher Prize winner
"The declining numbers of young people taking creative subjects in schools is deeply worrying, and will negatively impact the growth of the UK's world-leading creative industries. We must urge all policymakers to understand the severity of this situation and take action in making creative education more accessible."
Sally Joynson, Chief Executive, Screen Yorkshire
“Unlike many others, at Screen Yorkshire we’ve put our money where our mouth is, by setting up the Beyond Brontes scheme – which helps youngsters from many different backgrounds train for the screen industries. We’re now working with our first 50 trainees, so we know first-hand the level of enthusiasm that young people have for highly skilled, high-value-added jobs in the creative industries. But this all begins with what they are taught at school - and we need our youngsters to be taught rigorous creative and arts-based subjects. This is only going to become more important post Brexit, and if genuinely want to rebalance the UK’s creative economy and widen access beyond London and the south east.”
Dr Mark Mann RTTP, Innovation Lead, Humanities & Social Sciences, Oxford University Innovation
“I strongly support the content of this letter and this as someone with a STEM background now working in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. A diverse, balanced education is essential to providing young people with the best possible start and the greatest opportunities for a successful careers”
Dr Garfield Benjamin, Researcher in Creative Media and Digital Culture, Solent University
"Creative skills are important for a thriving society. Every industry benefits from creativity, and it forms a key UK industry in itself. But creativity is not just about natural talent. It must be learned and worked on. High quality creative education is essential at all levels to foster these skills, for individual development, for work and for well-being."
Amy Smith, Framestore
At Framestore we employ a diverse mix of people, from computer scientists to fine artists and everything in between. It is that mix of STEM and creativity that allows us to create the Oscar winning work that we do. A creative education isn't simply about art, it is about learning to make mistakes, innovating, researching and coming to a fuller understanding of the world through capturing viewpoints and experience. As a company pushing the boundaries of what the combination of craft and technology can be we struggle to recruit the talent we need in the UK (we recruit approximately 25% EU nationals currently) and we strongly believe that including creative subjects in the Ebacc would make a huge difference in our ability to recruit homegrown talent.
Pam Myers, Creative Director, Rorschach Ltd.
“Creative education is not just about producing the next generation of talent to work in our thriving creative industries, exciting as that is.
It is a much wider issue of equipping our young people with curiosity, resilience and flexibility; qualities they will be able to take into whichever professional field they choose. The ability to think critically and be confident in self-expression, these are skills which are transferable across all sectors. To be resourceful, confident and creative is not a luxury; it’s a pre-requisite for a fulfilling and productive career, and enabling young people to lay the foundations for this via their education is vital. Creativity is a great leveller, let’s not allow the hard-earned prestige of our flourishing cultural sector to fade for lack of support. We’ve never needed it more.”
Adam Milford, Theatre Workout:
“Experiencing drama for the first time when I was 16 profoundly changed my life. I had always been a shy kid with low confidence and self-esteem, but this experience gave me the confidence I had lacked and made me more vocal, creative and able to engage with others in a way I had never been able to do before. I started working in theatre the following summer, and after studying theatre at university I have continued to work in theatre professionally for over 20 years. I now work with other young people to give them the same potentially life changing experiences.”
Kathleen Alder Long, WildKat PR
"At WildKat, we support a lot of music education charities, and organisations with initiatives, who work hard to put music back into schools and increase performance opportunities for young people. This allows us to see first-hand the difference that a high quality creative education can truly make to a child. The UK's creative industries are currently booming; should we not, therefore, be investing this back into schools to ensure the next generation are inspired to go into the creative arts?”
Jo Wright, Chair, Sound City Liverpool
"Sound City Liverpool is the sister company to Liverpool Sound City, the UK's leading independent music festival. Our mission is to support the development of artistic and music industry talent, with a key focus on the North of England and diversity across all its forms. In addition to supporting and promoting emerging professional artists, we provide music-making, training, mentoring and work experience opportunities for young people in some of our most deprived communities, many of whom have not had the benefit of basic music education at school, let alone high-quality instrumental tuition. We will continue to strive to identify and support creative and entrepreneurial talent where we can, but it is critical that music and the arts are suitably prioritised in the education system and that our schools are properly resourced to deliver these subjects, if our music and wider creative industries are going to continue to be world-leading."
Michele Gregson, General Secretary, NSEAD
“We share concerns with DATA that the distinct nature of design and the very different requirements for teaching and learning in the two subjects is losing focus in English schools. We believe that the apparent rise in GCSE Art & Design entries actually reflects a growing trend (widely reported by our members) to merge D&T and Art & Design departments, reducing the number of specialists available to teach either subject.
NSEAD is concerned that the quality of art and design education is at risk as non-specialists teach Art & Design specifications. Student pathways will be compromised by a poor experiences at GCSE, with progression to A level and HE less likely. The same is true for D&T.
The reality of the 20% reduction in contact time for the arts is that both Art & Design and D&T teachers are losing their jobs and student opportunities are being reduced. This is a direct result of a decade of government policy and the critical pressure on school budgets. As the professional body representing Art & Design educators across the UK you can be assured of our continued support as you highlight the damaging impact of the falling numbers of young people studying creative subjects at school.”
Andy Payne OBE, Founder of Appynation
“The UK is a global leader in the Creative Industries and produces entertainment, art, culture which the whole world enjoys, delivering exports to UKPLC and incredible soft power. Creative education is essential to ensure we build on this economic and cultural power and should be valued equally alongside our science and technology education and all successful creative businesses need great art and great science to succeed.”
Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House
“Creative education is absolutely crucial, not just for the arts sector, but for the future of a global Britain on the edge of great change. At a time when there is inadequate, uneven provision of creative education in our schools, organisations such as the Royal Opera House are doing what they can to redress the balance through nation-wide learning programmes designed to bring a creative education to as many as possible. Last year, the Royal Opera House engaged more than 35,000 students in more than 500 schools across the country through its Create and Sing, Create and Dance and Design and Make programmes. While we’re proud of this, we’re doing it due the squeeze on arts provision in schools and in the hope we can begin to rebalance education for all our children and young people.”
Julie Ward, MEP, Vice Chair of European Parliament's Culture & Education Committee
"The narrowing of the curriculum resulting in fewer opportunities for young people to access arts education should be of serious concern for any modern democratic nation. The arts are NOT a luxury but an absolute necessity in order to build cohesive, prosperous and sustainable societies. I have been working in the arts for 40 years and I know from experience that engagement in the arts at an early age can be a key to address many of the socio-economic challenges that limit our individual and collective aspirations. As a member of the European Parliament's Culture and Education Committee I am proud to have successfully championed the policy of STEAM instead of STEM - adding the 'A for Arts' to Science, Technology and Maths. This shift is now enshrined in the European Commission's New Agenda for Culture. The division and imbalance between arts and sciences is unhelpful and short-sighted and does not reflect the the best practice of either; musicians, dancers, poets, photographers and filmmakers use maths in their day-to-day work, for example, whilst scientists need to engage in creative thinking in order to solve problems, to invent and to innovate. Whilst I urge all those working in the arts to sign this letter, I also want us to reach out to the science community. Their understanding, advocacy and support for a more balanced curriculum is vital, not just for the future of the Creative and Cultural Industries in the UK, but for the wider well-being of our society."
Julian Bird, Chef Executive, UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre
“Theatre is central to the UK’s international image and soft power and brings benefits to the wider creative economy and we are rightly proud in the UK of our dynamic and world leading theatre industry. For the sector to continue to make a strong contribution to the creative industries, we need to make sure that there is a strong pipeline of diverse home-grown talent to the industry.
We remain concerned about the side-lining of arts in education. Creative subjects are vital in order to introduce young people to the wide range of careers available in the creative industries. A combination of STEM and Arts subjects (STEAM) will prepare young people to become the next generation of theatre designers and technicians, theatre finance directors and chief executives. Roles such as these are essential to the health and growth of our industry.
We need to invest in our workforce now if we are to have the right skills and expertise in place for our industry to thrive in ten or twenty years.”
Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury
"There is no denying that studying creative subjects not only positively impacts young people's wellbeing, development and future opportunities, but is also critical for the creative industries at large, and indeed, the whole UK economy. It is essential that we ensure that creative education is available and accessible to all young people, otherwise our world-leading creative industries will cease to be what they are today."
Judith Webster, Chief Executive, Music for Youth
“We know first-hand how much young people gain from active music making, we see it in the events we deliver across the UK. We also know the positive benefits of music making on young people’s mental health and well-being, on their social development, and career opportunities. It is therefore essential that an arts education is available to the many – not the few.”
Lord Howarth of Newport, formerly Schools Minister and Minister for the Arts
"Aside from the benefits for our culture, economy and employment, the opportunity to develop their creativity within the school curriculum will have profound benefit for young people's wellbeing.”
Vanessa Wilson, CEO, University Alliance
"University Alliance institutions, who are known for putting technical and professional education at the heart of their mission, currently educate over 24,000 students in creative arts and design subjects. We are proud to support this campaign as we want future generations to be equipped with the skills, opportunities and talents that our universities and most importantly our society needs to thrive. We believe it’s vital that creative education is given the support and prominence in the curriculum it deserves. And, that progression routes exist to support students to continue to study creative subjects at higher levels and that STEM and other disciplines continue to be taught alongside each other in schools, colleges and universities."
Andrew Hurst, Chief Executive, One Dance UK
"One Dance UK advocate for the inclusion of high-quality dance education that is accessible to all. Statistics have shown a decline in uptake of GCSE Dance (45% since the introduction of the eBacc) and A level Dance (53% over the last eight years). Whilst there has been a small increase of 8% in GCSE dance uptake in the last year, the continual reduction in time and resources allocated to dance suggest that this will not continue. We must ensure every child has the opportunity to engage in an arts-rich education that will allow them to become the imaginative, confident and resilient young people that will continue the success of our creative industries."
Nick Owen, MBE, CEO, The Mighty Creatives
"In order to fuel creativity in young people, we must ensure that creative education is accessible to all. If the country wants to maintain, and indeed, improve upon the incredible talent of this world-leading sector, it is of the utmost importance that we make sure opportunities to engage with arts and culture in schools are readily available."
As the Group Creative Director of Space Zero, a leading education environment design company I sincerely support the points raised in the open letter to the Secretary of State for Education on the value of creative education.
David Judge, Group Creative Director, Space Zero
"To support the next generation of enquiring minds, education must evolve. Education is more than pure academic attainment. Creative education improves wellbeing, confidence and behaviour, promoting positive attitudes, values and ethics. It is central in shaping a cohort of independent, resilient and collaborative learners, able to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of the 21st-century workplace.
In the recent Wired article "Which skills will empower the next generation?", it is argued that the coming AI revolution requires a revolution in education practices, as attainment in traditional academic subjects becomes secondary to individual competencies. I am in full agreement that independent learning and the skills borne of creative education are preparing graduates for this, as it is the children with boundless creativity who will have the skills required to cope with the shift. A renewed focus on creative education will ensure all learners can rise to the challenge."
John Goodwin, Chief Executive, The Lego Foundation
"Creativity Matters. Viewed as one of the most important skills needed, it matters for countries, economies, employers, parents, and learners. It is clear that there is a widening gap between the desire for creativity skills, and the ability of education systems to develop this skill. Concerted reform is needed. Aiming to build a future in which learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners, we at the LEGO Foundation are working hard to support this reform. We believe that all children have the potential to be creative, a potential that can be nurtured over time. By shining a spotlight on the importance of better understanding and promoting creativity, both within and outside the classroom, we work to inform, enable and equip education systems with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to deliver this critical skill for today’s, and tomorrow’s learners"