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Lack of investment in art and design education is having a 'damaging impact' on one of the UK’s most successful sectors, new campaign group warns.

Mature teacher working with art students during painting class at school
The number of GCSE exam entries to creative arts subjects fell by 4% this year

DisobeyArt via iStock

Leaders in the UK’s creative industries have called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to use next week's Autumn Statement to provide urgent support for arts education in schools, warning they are struggling to recruit the diverse talent they need.

The Creative Industry Alliance, formed by leading figures from the sector, says "drastic" funding cuts for arts subjects in schools since 2010 have resulted in fewer graduates entering the industry, affecting the UK’s international standing in the sector.

They also say it is exacerbating the divide between state and public schools, where funding for the arts remains, making it "increasingly hard to recruit the diversity of talent needed".


"We see an ever-increasing proportion of applicants from fee-paying school backgrounds where it is possible to study and gain qualifications in subjects like art and design, and fewer from state school backgrounds where these subjects are increasingly rare," an open letter sent to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt states.

"This restricts not only the potential talent pool, but also the diversity of our teams. An industry like ours depends on diversity of background, perspective, and ideas."

Earlier this year the total number of exam entries to all creative arts subjects fell by 4% compared with last year, representing its smallest ever share of total GCSE exam entries.

'Critical moment'

The alliance says the situation has come about because of a reduction in funding of arts subjects in UK state schools since 2010, a lack of recruitment and retention of teachers for arts subjects, changes to qualifications and league tables de-prioritising arts subjects, and careers advisers at state schools being "too often unaware of opportunities in creative industries".

It is calling for government action on each of these four areas.

"We are at a critical moment," the letter states. 

"The creative industries are central to the UK’s future success, and they rely on investment in arts education today. We urge you act."

Jeremy Hunt will present his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday (22 November).

The Treasury has said measures announced in the Autumn Statement will help to get people back into work and boost growth.