Chair of CHEAD speaks at Creative Education Manifesto event at Labour Party Conference

October 11, 2023

During party conference season, a coalition of creative and higher education organisations, including CHEAD, have launched their Creative Education Manifesto, calling on all political parties to commit collectively to restoring creative arts education.

At a packed event hosted by LIPA, Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, the #ArtIsEssential campaign coalition launched Creative Education Manifesto, calling on all political parties to protect the creative arts talent pipeline.

CHEAD are a leading contributor to the manifesto, Trustees attended and our Chair also spoke at the event. The speech is detailed below.

Hello, I’m Professor David McGravie Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts Humanities & Social Sciences at University of Chester and I’m currently the chair of CHEAD Council for Higher Education Art and Design because I am passionate about art and design higher education.

CHEAD represents the higher education art and design sector and is an inclusive voice for creative arts education. We aim to inform debates and to influence key policy where it touches on our sector. As a charitable organisation with nearly 70 institutional members and a following of 1200 creative educators, researchers and practitioners, we are delighted to have worked with the creative education coalition to draw up this creative education manifesto. I think you’ll all agree this powerfully illustrates how protecting and nurturing creative skills in education can have huge economic and societal benefits.

The reality is our economy is stronger because of creativity. Generating over £115 billion every year, employing more than 2 million people, and growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, contributing more than aerospace, automotive, life sciences and the oil and gas sectors combined. The creative industries are not only the lifeblood of national culture, but they make an immense contribution to our financial security and future prosperity.

If our creative futures are put at risk — it’s not just our right but our responsibility to stand up and do something about it.

I can offer three specific priority areas where the UK arts, media and design higher education providers can work with the UK government in common cause to protect the creative talent pipeline –

1. Firstly, We can all collaborate to cultivate the next generation of the creative workforce. Educating our brilliant graduates is a privilege. They are the changemaking intra and entrepreneurs and agitators. Our colleagues at CHEAD witness every day the transformative power a creative education can bring. As the Future Skills Report from Kingston University highlights a higher arts education develops the graduate attributes and skills most needed by employers such as critical thinking, risk taking and problem solving.

2. Secondly, We can connect students and educators to the creative and cultural stakeholders in their area through the civic engagement and social purpose missions of universities.

3. Thirdly, We can empower teachers to deliver the existing curriculum in more creative ways through our teaching training programmes.

To do this, we must protect creative education at all levels.

In conclusion, art education is not just about learning to create art or play an instrument. It’s about developing a deeper understanding of the world around us, being more innovative creative thinkers and unleashing potential whilst contributing to our overall well-being. Therefore, it is essential that we continue to emphasize the importance of art from early learning through to higher education. And that is why……We are wholeheartedly supportive of the Art is Essential campaign.

I’m feeling optimistic that leaders and influencers here today are inspired to work together to design a new policy solution so that every school aged child has access to a high quality creative and cultural education. The people in this room understand what’s at stake. The manifesto offers a strong and compelling body of evidence that speaks to current policy but also radically challenges it. Today is about fuelling hope, ambition….and taking action, by scaling up a movement around creativity that promotes greater understanding of creative pedagogies and brings the political and social dimensions of creativity onto the horizon through further debate and research.

Building on the momentum created by all our speakers, I now call on everyone here today to offer strong support for this proposal and its ambitions.

Thank you.


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