Coventry University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Arts and Humanities has made an impassioned plea about the value of arts courses as the UK creative industries bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Professor Judith Mossman said recent changes to reduce government funding for arts courses were making the task of educating the next generation of creative workers harder. The creative industries are some of the fastest growing sectors in the economy – estimates suggesting they were worth £111.7bn in 2018 – but have been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
Research suggests rates of young people leaving the sector have been around 12 percentage points higher than the usually expected rates. But with the creative industries bouncing back, there is growing demand for talent and skills.
Speaking after questioning from ten MPs, Professor Mossman said: “Being the UK City of Culture 2021 has transformed Coventry in terms of investment. Events like this can make a huge difference, including highlighting creative work that was already happening. Now it falls to everyone to ensure the next generation of creative workers have the best skills for the future – arts education cannot be forgotten.”
Professor Mossman argued that the benefits of creative education are felt by everyone in a community and not just graduates. This comes at the same time as direct funding for the performing and creative arts subjects has been cut by 50 per cent.
At Coventry University, the redevelopment of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities facilities which are planned to open later in 2022 will have a public gallery space, café and events atrium where students, staff and visiting artists can showcase their work to the community.
The project provides a direct point of contact between the local community, the university, and its industries, allowing the city, its residents and visitors to engage with the creative work Coventry’s students are producing.
During the session, Professor Mossman also praised City of Culture organisers for staging a year’s worth of cultural events in Coventry, even during a global pandemic.
The committee were interested in how to encourage more cultural events across the whole country. Coventry University was invited to give evidence to the cross-party group of MPs due to its role as a major education institution and a principal partner of the City of Culture.
In a report published last week, the cross-party group called on the Government to have more of a strategy for its big cultural events including the Commonwealth Games, which will take place in Birmingham and Coventry this summer.