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UK’s creative leader status ‘under threat due to arts education cuts’

Creative Industries Federation chief executive John Kampfner. Photo: Austin C Williams Creative Industries Federation chief executive John Kampfner. Photo: Austin C Williams
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The UK’s status as a “global cultural leader” is at risk because it is lagging behind other countries in terms of arts education and government investment in the creative industries.

This is the warning of a new report carried out by BOP Consulting in partnership with the Creative Industries Federation, which analyses how the UK compares with six other key nations in three main areas – the creative industries, public arts and creative education.

The UK is compared with France, Germany and Italy (representing the European Union nations), Brazil, Korea, and the USA.

In terms of contribution made by the creative industries to exports, defined as the “value of exports of creative goods per capita”, the UK ranks number one, with $361 (£248) per head.

The UK is second only to Korea in terms of the economic contribution of the creative industries (with 5.8% of GDP made up of core creative industries) and also ranks second in terms of spend by individuals on entertainment and media. The UK’s spend here is $1,283 (£882) per head, second to the USA, with $1,441 (£992).

However, the government’s investment in public culture per capita is put at $77 (£52) by the report, ranking the UK in 5th position, below France, Germany, Korea and Italy. Germany, in second place, spends 2.5 times more than the UK per capita.

Despite this, the UK ranks number one in terms of the level of engagement with culture among the population and in relation to the number of major cultural venues per capita.

The UK was also just third in terms of the priority that the arts is given in the education system, behind Italy and Germany. The results of the research come as campaigners continue to call on the government to make the arts compulsory in the English Baccalaureate.

John Kampfner, chief executive of CIF, said that – despite a good autumn statement settlement for the arts – he was worried about cuts to local authority spending on culture and the “marginalisation of creative subjects in schools”.

He added: “All this is taking place while many other countries are getting the link between commercial and public investment and the importance of education, just as we are un-getting it. If we are not careful, we could lose our status as a global cultural leader. This must not be allowed to happen.”

John Sorrell, chair of CIF, added that it was “salutary” to observe what other countries are doing as they “attempt to emulate our success”.

He said: “They are investing in talent and in infrastructure just as we appear to be cutting back and marginalising creative subjects in schools. Jobs and wealth creation will suffer as a result.”

CIF this week marked its first birthday with an event that included Cameron Mackintosh and Emma Rice, new artistic director at Shakespeare’s Globe, on the guest list.

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