After recently publishing its general election manifesto for the creative industries, the Creative Industries Federation – of which a-n is a member – is to host a series of events with leading figures from the four main UK political parties: Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party.

At the events, each figure will speak about their party’s approach to the arts and creative industries and will then be grilled on their plans for the creative sector during a Q&A session.

“We expect robust discussion on vital issues including Brexit, culture, industrial strategy and education and skills,” says a CIF statement.

The events will take place in London, Hull and Glasgow throughout this month.

On Wednesday 17 May, Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital and culture will start the series at an event in London. He will be followed on Monday 22 May by Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party and shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who will be speaking in Hull.

Tuesday 23 May sees a return to London with Liberal Democrat Baroness Bonham-Carter giving her pitch, while on Friday 26 May the final event in the series takes place in Glasgow with the SNP’s Fiona Hyslop MSP (Scottish cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs) and John Nicolson (Westminster spokesperson for culture, media and sport).

Details of each event can be found on the Creative Industries Federation website.

As an active member, a-n has been highlighting the issues and concerns of its members to the CIF policy team in order that these are reflected in the federation’s sector-wide campaigns.

In particular, a-n has fed into its comprehensive submission to the government’s industrial strategy green paper, its freelance and self-employment study and Brexit planning, highlighting issues facing self-employed artists in a precarious market, including the need for a fit-for-purpose visa system.

Creative Industries Federation election manifesto

1. Ensure that the creative industries and arts are a priority sector in Brexit negotiations. Federation members were overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU for very practical reasons. The sector will be particularly vulnerable if we do not get right all the key issues in negotiations, among them movement of talent and intellectual property (IP).

2. Prioritise the creative industries in a new visa system. Our visa system was built for an industrial landscape that no longer exists. We need a 21st century model that recognises the needs of fast-growing, world-leading and highly innovative sectors, including science, tech and the creative industries.

3. Double the number of creative companies that export by the end of the next Parliament. Trade strategies are currently geared toward larger enterprises, whereas the creative industries are primarily made up of small and micro businesses. The sector accounted for 9% of total exports of services from the UK in 2014, valued at £20bn – an underestimate. With the right support, exports could be far higher, offering economic stability to a post-Brexit Britain.

4. Introduce creative enterprise zones. The success of the creative industries can and must be harnessed to deliver growth and regeneration across the UK. Government should extend the roll-out of enterprise zones to cover the creative industries. Areas that axe or severely reduce arts funding would be ineligible.

5. Establish a creative industries ‘business booster’ network. Freelancers, microbusinesses and SMEs – the backbone of the creative industries – often struggle to access finance and support around intellectual property and exports at the early, often risky stage of development. A national centre, based outside London and with a regional network, to provide advice on these issues is needed to ensure the creative industries continue to grow apace.

6. Set up a creative skills commission. The creative industries face significant skills shortages because we have failed to prepare young people in education and training. The commission would report within six months on practical measures to defuse the skills time bomb and better equip the next generation for 21st century life.

7. Launch a creative careers campaign. Careers guidance must be transformed. Government should lead on a creative careers campaign to correct inadequate information about potential careers in the creative industries and open up access to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Better, inspirational advice would go some way towards solving the skills crisis in the creative industries and in others that rely heavily on creative skills, such as manufacturing.

8. Limit ‘outstanding’ to schools that warrant it. Creative employment is resistant to automation, and adapting to the future jobs landscape will demand creative skills. Securing a workforce fit for the 21st century begins at school. A school must teach at least one creative subject, in lesson time, in order to be eligible for an ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted.

9. Maintain and inflation-proof existing national and local investment in culture and the arts. Modest public investment in the arts not only supports our world-beating public institutions but provides cross-fertilisation for the commercial sector in talent and ideas.

10. Maintain and increase the growth of the creative industries. Over the past five years, the sector has grown by 34% – the fastest growing part of the UK’s economy. Government should commit to maintaining and increasing this pace of growth by 2022 for the sake not only of the sector, but of the wider economy too. This could take the GVA of the sector to an impressive £120bn.

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