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WELCOME SERENDIPITY

Ralph Windle Posted by Ralph Windle.

Ralph Windle is the editor of The Poetry of Business Life, as well as the author of Boardroom Ballads and The Bottom Line, and co-editor (with William Keyser) of Public Enterprises in the EEC.


No causal connection, of course, but a welcome serendipity  ….

No causal connection, of course, but a welcome serendipity  ….

- that less than one week from our post on creativity and its arts/science imperatives ( ‘Google Chairman      Argues CVN’s Case ‘ 30 August 2011 ) the ‘serious’ press was alive with this issue, and the Shadow Culture Secretary, Ivan Lewis,was launching a Review of Policy towards Creativity and a new Creative Industries  network.

And a decade after CVN’s pioneering of the idea , it was interesting to see Lord David Puttnam in the van of a score of leading artists, entrepreneurs and educationalists, putting a cogently argued case to the ‘Observer’ on 4th September. Although its rationale eventually homed in on the economic relevance of the UK’s high-performing ‘ creative industries’ ( so-called, more’s the pity!) it was good to see the thrust of the argument in the right place – this government’s mis-directed educational policies.

‘We are concerned that recent developments, including the 100% cut to teaching grants for arts and        humanities degrees, the exclusion of creative and technical subjects from the English Baccalaureate, the  government’s questioning of whether they have a place in the national curriculum, and severe cuts in    teacher training allocations for these subjects, all send out the wrong message. We urge ministers across    government to come together and adopt coherent and integrated policies which will ensure that creativity  and innovation are at the heart of what our future education system offers. This is in the best interests of  our society, our economy, and the young people who will determine our country’s destiny.’

That’s right in terms of its relative emphasis – and continues:


‘It is for these reasons that we urge the government to recognise that a 21st century education system    should have creativity at its heart as an entitlement for all, through the national curriculum, as well as  through specific courses in further and higher education where the arts, art, design, technology and  computing should be nurtured and developed. We know that for many young people their confidence and  passion for learning are ignited when the education system provides them with the opportunity to express  their creative ability. Arts, humanities and creative and technical learning can offer the opportunity to re-  engage disaffected students but also, as highlighted in the recent US Reinvesting in Arts Education report, there is a clear link between good arts education and standards in literacy and numeracy.’
This is greatly encouraging ( if a few years late! ) and – may I say it? – ‘creative’ in a way that edges towards CVN’s mission; but there are, as we know, unusual ideological and political obstacles at this time to any early hopes of success.

That is why the Ivan Lewis ‘ creative policy and network’ initiative is also so important and welcome. I was invited to the Whitehall launch event on 7th September, and was pleased to see Ed Miliband adding his authority to the process, among an impressively large group of relevant, committed activists. CVN will be helping push things along.

It was Christina Patterson, writing in The Independent on that same day ( 7th
September ) who put it all in some relevant, longer context.

‘ People with the power to create characters and  stories which live on in the minds, and hearts, and films, and songs, and ballets, and paintings, and poems  of other people, tend not to call themselves ‘creative’…but, whether they knew it or not, they did start an industry ….

And so did a young man who left his family to be an actor in London, and knocked off plays to pay their rent. Plays which, 500 years on, are still the most widely performed works of art in the world… Long before the “creative industries” were called the “ creative industries”, they were Britain’s best export “.

This ‘industry’ is already 7% of GDP, employs 800,000 people, and has fewer downsides ( and much lower bonuses ) than financial services. It has great collateral social and educational advantages.

Time to give it a better go.

RW.  6th October 2011.