UK (Birmingham City University) University calls for greater recognition and commitment to Creative Arts

Birmingham City University (BCU) is urging policymakers to place greater emphasis on the value of the Creative Arts in higher education and recognise the role universities play in strengthening the sector’s growth and innovation.



At Westminster yesterday, BCU leaders also called on industry and government to commit to increasing diversity in the arts and media industries to ensure equality and true representation.

Speakers at BCU’s event at the House of Lords made the case for greater investment in Creative Arts education, and the need to drive forwards the STEAM agenda – bringing together the Arts with STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) disciplines.

Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Chi Onwurah MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Creative Diversity, and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, Arts Minister, were among the speakers at the event supporting BCU’s calls to action.

Sir Lenny Henry, Chancellor of Birmingham City University, who opened the event with a video message to attendees, said: “I am proud that our University, with its hugely diverse student community and an outstanding Arts education provision, is unlocking opportunities for future musicians, artists, journalists, jewellers, designers, filmmakers and many more professions besides.

Professor Philip Plowden, Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “Arts, design and performance have been at the core of our University since our founding almost 180 years ago, and our education provision is grounded in the diverse and rich cultural mix of our city – ensuring we build on all of the talents and aspirations of our students.

“We recognise the need for the Arts to come together with STEM disciplines, delivering challenge-based education that focuses on innovation and enterprise as solutions for tomorrow’s problems.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson said: “Cultural organisations fill our towns and cities with pride, bring people together, and make a vital contribution to local economies.

Also among the key speakers at the event was Anita Bhalla OBE, former BBC journalist, founder of BBC Asian Network and Chair of the Creative City Partnership who championed activity which helped lead to the recent launch of BCU’s major new £70 million STEAMhouse building – home to a multi-disciplinary community of entrepreneurs, academics, students, artists and businesses.

Meanwhile, journalist Marcus Ryder MBE, Head of External Consultancies at BCU’s Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, also gave a speech outlining the successes of the centre which is carrying out research and activity to improve representation across all sectors of the media.

Since its inception in 2020, the Centre has delivered real, tangible change to the UK media landscape, including working with Channel 4 on Black to Front, a day of programming featuring 100% on-screen Black representation and maximizing Black representation in production behind the camera.

Following a report co-authored by Ryder, Beyond Black to Front, Channel 4 has committed to new commissioning guidelines, producing new and more representative programming content, and increasing the numbers of its editorial workforce from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

Research from UK Creative Industries and Oxford Economics suggests that creative industries could grow by over 26% by 2025, contributing over £130bn to the economy in gross value added (GVA) – more than the financial services, insurance and pension industries combined – creating more than 300,000 new jobs.