This discussion paper, drafted by the Culture Forum North group on Cultural and Creative Careers, sets out the beginnings of a strategy that relates to skills development in the sector.

We welcome your involvement in the conversation and any information you would like to contribute.  Please contact Emma Thomas, Head of Learning and Engagement, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

The national context

‘Inspiring Growth’ CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey (2015) suggested that 42% of employers felt universities should do more to help students become job-ready. Government, business and the university need to come together to address this mismatch between supply and demand in the graduate labour market. Businesses should not just be seen as customers of universities, recruiting graduates they educate or buying research expertise, but as active partners. Universities need to develop business outreach into a core function that has influence over curriculum design.

Over half of businesses (55%) are not confident there will be enough people available in the future with the necessary skills to fill their high-skilled jobs.

Creative Industries Federation ‘How public investment in arts contributes to growth in the creative industries’ (2015)

The UK’s creative industries sector, as a sub-sector of the creative economy, has now grown from 4% of the UK’s GVA in 1997 to 5% in 2013. The GVA of the creative industries experienced growth between 2008 and 2013 of 26%, which is higher than the figure for financial and insurance activities (13.1%) and returned £77 billion of direct GVA in 2012-2013 and 8.8% of total UK exports in 2012. Exports by the UK creative industries have increased by 34.2% between 2009 and 2013 and account for 8.7% of total exports of services for the UK in 2013.

More than 1 in 12 jobs in the UK are in the creative economy and employment has increased by 5% between 2013 and 2014 compared to the increase in jobs in the wider UK economy of 2.1%. The number of jobs in the creative industries increased by 5.5% between 2013 and 2014.

90% of businesses in the creative industries are self-employed individuals and estimates of the number of freelancers range from an average of 23% to 45%. A quarter of the arts and culture industry’s supply chain is accounted for by the creative industries, representing almost £2.2 billion 2010. The arts and culture industry in the UK is indirectly a significant source of support for jobs in the commercial creative industries.

Jo Johnson MP, Universities Minister

DCMS Creative Industries Economic Estimates January 2015

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)Times Higher Education

The TEF will see the government monitoring and assessing the quality of teaching in England’s universities.

New education, skills and training initiatives which seek to be as relevant as possible to the needs of the creative industries. The majority of people working in the creative and cultural industries have a degree or higher. Apprenticeships, vocational qualifications and informal ‘on-the-job’ training are becoming more common. Experience is valued as much as qualifications. In a sector where small businesses are common, entrepreneurial and business skills are important. Employers also look for good interpersonal skills, creativity and the ability to work to tight deadlines.

Education Policy – STEM focus rather than STEAM

In a recent House of Lords debate on Art Education, Lord Clencarty, Vice Chair of the APPG Arts, Craft and Design in Education, raised concerns about Art Education policy:

‘The CBI said last year that a significant number of firms needing employees with STEM skills and knowledge had difficulty recruiting because they were not rounded or grounded. The Royal Bank of Scotland said only last week that it now wanted to employ arts graduates because it believed that its economists and mathematicians showed too much so-called linear thinking, which the bank had the temerity to suggest was in part responsible for the financial crisis—and it might be right. For this kind of education to take place in schools, which is where it starts, the arts, sciences and humanities subjects need to maintain their integrity as identifiable subjects in their own right. That is why I am talking about arts subject, not about creativity. The arts need to be treated as significant equal elements within the school educational system.

It is a sad reflection on our educational system that the case for an arts education in schools needs to be made, because arts subjects are under threat in a number of significant ways. To be fair to this Government, although there are specific current issues which need to be addressed, this has been true for a while. Since 2003, the number of students taking art and design GCSEs has fallen by 13%, music by 10% and drama by 23%. Overall, the take-up of GCSE arts subjects has fallen by 28%.’ (Dec 2014)

The regional context

Region/Devolved Authority Jobs in Creative Industries Proportion of UK Creative Industries jobs
North East 39,000 2.2%
North West 139,000 7.7%
Yorkshire & The Humber 85,000 4.7%
East Midlands 94,000 5.2%
West Midlands 107,000 5.9%
East of England 136,000 7.5%
London 575,000 31.8%
South East 285,000 15.8%
South West 156,000 8.6%
Wales 51,000 2.8%
Scotland 102,000 5.6%
Northern Ireland 27,000 1.5%
UK Total 1,808,000 100%

DCMSCreative Industries: Focus on Employment, June 2015

Priorities\Areas of interest for the Creative and Cultural Careers group


  1. Draw out the potential of partnerships within the NPF to develop this area of work.
  2. Explore,progress and profile innovative partnership models for the development of Creative and Cultural Careers.
  3. Demonstrate the impact of partnership working on Creative and Cultural Careers


  1. Defining creative and cultural careers and the role of partnership within their development.
  2. Developing innovate areas of practice. Knowledge sharing
  3. Undertaking initiatives in partnership.
  4. Advocating for the unique and important role of partnership working in this context.
  5. Supporting


Case Studies to support the strategy

BxNU Institute

The BxNU Institute is a base for world-class teaching and mentorship in contemporary art practice and research, generated by the dynamic partnership between BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Northumbria University. BALTIC Professor Christine Borland and a network of internationally active artists, academics and curators lead the Institute’s energetic post graduate community, which includes the Northumbria-Sunderland AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Art and Design and the BxNU Master of Fine Arts course. It is also the studio base for Northumbria University’s Warwick Stafford and Woon Fellows, the winners of two generous annual prizes aimed at early and mid-career practitioners in Fine Art.

The Institute fosters research and experimentation in curatorial and art practice through its programme of collaborative BxNU public events and discussions.

As part of the BxNU Instutute, BALTIC and Northumbria University deliver 3 post graduate courses in partnership: BALTIC MFA, MA Fine Art and Education and the MA Professional Practice.

The BxNU Master of Fine Art (MFA) – The two-year course offers ambitious artists the opportunity to participate in a unique postgraduate degree programme, centred on the vibrant and dynamic studio culture of the BxNU Institute of Contemporary Art at BALTIC 39 in Newcastle’s city centre.

The Institute is a base for BALTIC Professor Christine Borland and a network of internationally active artists, academics and curators who provide world-class teaching and mentorship in contemporary art practice and research. The BxNU MFA provides students with exceptional opportunities to develop their art practice in this vibrant context, supported by outstanding exhibition facilities and dedicated studio spaces.

MA Fine Art and Education – This course enables artist educators to further or re-establish their artistic practice within a supportive, innovative and creative environment, with tutorials and taught sessions on evenings and weekends at Northumbria University and at BALTIC.

Applications are welcomed from artist educators working in secondary and primary schools, further and higher education, and visual arts education within galleries and museums settings.

MA Professional practice – Designed for Secondary and Primary Teachers interested in extending a current specialism or interest in Art, Craft and Design in education, participants will be able to apply their learning in and through their professional practice.

Delivered mainly from the rich BALTIC setting, the programme is supported by extensive opportunities to access and accredit CPD activity undertaken in and beyond BALTIC.

This MA allows participants to tailor content to reflect personal and professional interests, aspirations and needs.

2. BALTIC Professional Practice Award: Learning In and Through Work

Northumbria University has developed a highly effective Work-Based Learning (WBL) programme, designed to be delivered in partnership with organisations. It provides a vehicle whereby in-house Continuous Professional Development (CPD) can be integrated and further enhanced through a process of critical reflection, to advance the professional attributes of staff and enable them to gain academic recognition for their work-based learning.

The University has for many years pioneered development to promote flexible and responsive provision to meet the needs of the workplace. Within the School of Health, Community and Education Studies, work-based learning is increasingly being used as a mode of study for employed people and as a significant agent for change within the workplace. The Professional Practice Award (PPA), offered at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels on a part-time basis, is the key vehicle for work-based learning within the School.  The School has contracts for the programme with various employers including NHS Trusts, private medical organisations, several Local Authorities and schools. The programme started in September 2006 and now enrols between 450-600 learners annually.

The PPA focuses on learning in and through the workplace, where work provides the focus for the programme of study.  Through reflection, it promotes awareness of the workplace as a learning environment and utilises this to extend the learner’s capability and individual effectiveness.

The Award has been developed for, and with, employers such as BALTIC to respond to and support their workforce development needs and is relevant for a range of organisations and occupational sectors. As a real learning-through-work experience, it is very different to a traditional university course.  It uses a range of provision to provide a broad, proactive and comprehensive structure that responds to the needs of the workplace enabling individuals, groups of learners and employers to negotiate flexible and bespoke programmes of study through clear, straightforward and robust processes. Flexible delivery in this context includes mode of learning, location of learning and start/end dates of programmes outside the normal academic calendar.

Key Elements of the BALTIC Professional Practice Award

As in the case of BALTIC, most PPA programmes are primarily developed at the behest of an organisation and rely on a tripartite learning partnership between the student, the employer and the university. To be successful, the organisation and institution develop a learning partnership culture in order to deliver, assess and evaluate the programme of study.

To enable this programme to work, a Learning Partnership Agreement was developed which set out the contributions of both partners in the joint design, development and delivery of the programme. The agreement outlined BALTIC’s role through its Learning and Engagement team in the support of the learner by way of formal and informal inputs to the programme, and through the support from work-based advisors to support participants during the work-based project. For the University, this included: access to University study and library resources; group learning sessions and individual tutor support (mostly provided in the workplace). Additionally the University was responsible for assessment and all matters related to quality assurance. The programme was overseen by a joint steering group.

Those successfully completing the full 60 credit BALTIC programme gained a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice. Students then have an opportunity to progress to a full Masters.

The Programme is made up of two modules:

Module 1: Recognising Continuing Professional Development

In the BALTIC model, individuals were in the first instance able to gain 30 academic credit points at postgraduate level for their CPD, which was linked directly to their Performance Development Review (PDR). Through a process of critical reflection individuals were able to bring into play the evidence of action planning and their ensuing current development in order to have their learning formally recognised for credit.

Module 2: Work-Based Project

Additionally a further 30 credits was undertaken through a Work-Based Project, (WBP). This negotiated service improvement project focused upon the direct application of learning gained in the workplace. In negotiation with their workplace and supervising university tutor, individuals were required to undertake a project that focussed upon an organisational-based issue that would enable the further development of skills in the diagnosis of problems, enquiry and analysis, development of strategies to address problems, and techniques of presentation and evaluation. Not only were learners expected to research around a particular issue but also to implement a real change in workplace practice.


In this development, effective partnership working has been an essential ingredient for success. Each partner brought a range of expert knowledge, experience, skill, capacity and resource. Skilled leadership at a senior level has been required to provide the direction and to negotiate responsibilities in order to ensure delivery and success through: openness; trust and honesty between partners; agreed shared goals and values; regular communication between partners.

3. Creative Writing and the Literature Industry:   Northumbria University and New Writing North

Partnership Context

Northumbria University and New Writing North have worked in partnership since 2008, and have developed a formal partnership agreement to achieve the following aims:

New Writing North is the writing development agency for the North of England. Core projects include the Northern Writers’ Awards, Read Regional, Moth Publishing, the Gordon Burn Prize, the Cuckoo Young Writers Programme, and work with teachers and schools. Northumbria University and NWN share an aspiration to support and develop new creative writing talent, and to create an environment in which new writing thrives and is celebrated. This is achieved through collaborations that enhance research, teaching & learning and public engagement in creative writing.

Writing lends itself to interdisciplinary practice, and several of our key collaborations connect writers as a learning community with academics from across the University in new and innovative ways.  In 2014, we developed and deliveredCrime Story, a unique crime writing conference that engaged with over 80 writers to participate in a weekend of seminars and panels that brought research from diverse disciplinary backgrounds – forensics, judicial process, police cultures, victimology – to a new audience; since then we have collaborated to deliver a Crime Story seminar series and have ongoing plans for developing further learning opportunities with the writing community. Two collaborative PhDs with New Writing North have also been underpinned by interdisciplinary approaches, developing an ‘applied’ approach to creative writing PhDs that compliments the University’s successful practice led creative writing doctoral scholarship.

The partnership has a key focus on talent development through theNorthern Writers’ Awards, which supports the development and retention of writing talent in the region through bursaries, mentoring and industry networks. The awards have acted as a lever to develop new partnerships with national and regional partners including Channel 4, Lime Pictures and Red Productions to support a new Writing for Television Award. The partnerships have enabled academics in Media Production to develop relationships with commissioning and production companies that enhance our teaching and learning offer, including opportunities for  students in Media Production to engage with a senior commissioning editor for C4.

We co-deliver the biennial Newcastle Writing Conferencewhich explores trends in publishing and new markets for writing, and supportswriters to make connections with each other and with industry experts.The Conference develops the knowledge and know-how of established and emerging writers as well as students seeking to understand more about the writing and publishing industry.

The partnership has facilitated the development of new learning offers at Northumbria University, and enhances the offer we are able to make to our student community. A Post Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing in the Classroom was developed as part of our collaborative PhD programme, and is now an established PG route in Humanities.  Since 2013, NWN has worked with the creative writing team to establish and co-deliver the Writing & Enterprise module for students. This brings industry speakers, knowledge and expertise into Northumbria classrooms, exploring traditional and new modes of publication and distribution in the writing industry, and developing skills that equip students to work in the literary sector.

Northumbria University and New Writing North: Writing & Enterprise Module

Graduates wishing to work in the literature sector enter an environment where business models are diverse and rapidly changing. To be successful in developing a career in the writing industry -– as writers, editors, publishers, agents, booksellers – graduates need to understand the industry models, know how to research and apply for positions in the literary sector, and know how to progress and apply their ideas independently and creatively. There is therefore a need to embed learning that supports creative practice, contextualizes industry knowledge and enhances students’ ability to develop careers in the sector.Since 2013, New Writing North (the writing and literature development agency for the Greater North) has worked with the creative writing team at Northumbria University to establish and co-deliver a Writing & Enterprise module for undergraduate students.

New Writing North plays a critical role in curriculum design as well as delivery. The module brings industry speakers, knowledge and expertise into Northumbria classrooms, exploring traditional and new modes of publication and distribution in the writing industry, and developing skills that equip students to work in the literary sector. We work with writers, agents, publishers, publicity specialists and those working at the forefront of digital innovation in the sector to enhance student learning. The module covers:

From 2015-16 this module will also engage with PG Masters and PhD students, and we are now developing industry and enterprise strands through a range of creative writing modules.


The principles that underpin the partnership have been key to developing a co-designed learning offer that supports the creative and cultural career development of creative writing students. We have been able to draw on the wider partnership programme to inform the development of the work. We have also negotiated the cultural differences that exist across our two organisations – large higher education institution/small arts organisation – by retaining a focus on the needs of learners, writers and the writing industry. We are in the this year of collaborating to deliver the module, and are continuing to learn together about how we can do it better!    

Creative and Cultural Careers Project Group


Being a Creative Nation: The Next Decade

‘Inspiring Growth’ CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2015

Creative Industries Federation ‘How public investment in arts contributes to growth in the creative industries’

Teaching at the heart of the system – Speeches – Gov.UK

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Times Higher Education

DCMS Creative Industries Economic Estimates January 2015