The House of Lords has this week launched an investigation into the gap between the skills needed in the creative industries and the skills education providers are supplying arts students with.
Begun on March 14th, the inquiry has taken theatre as a case study and will examine how the UK can nurture and develop talent for the country's creative industries.
For me, the inquiry couldn't come to soon.
At Central Saint Martins, on the MA Dramatic Writing which I run, we have for the last four years been investigating what writing training needs to provide - first via two Years of Experimentation where we worked with the country's leading industry practitioners to explore the future of writing training and what writing training can be.
Then via our campaign for the last two years to increase access and diversity in the writing industry - this has included The Student Guide to Writing competition run with the Bush Theatre and Oberon Books, London Writers' Week, run in partnership with The Writers' Guild of Great Britain, Playwrights' Studio, Scotland, BBC Writersroom, Tamasha, The London Playwrights Blog, Writers at Work Productions and the National Association of Writers in Education, with the aim to provide access to and showcase the best new ideas going on in new writing in the UK, and University Women in the Arts which aims to address why more women study the arts but less women work in the arts.
We are currently running a survey on what dramatic writing training needs to be, which can be completed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/dramaticwriting
We also running a petition to save the A level Creative Writing which is due to come to an end this year: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/reinstate-the-creative-writing-a-level
And our first book, Dramatic Writing Masterclasses: Key Advice from the Industry Masters, has just been published as part of a new partnership with Oberon Books to provide access for the first time to leading industry writing training which has never been published before.
This what we have discovered so far via the above work:
1) There is no consistency in creative writing courses at university level and how they train writers at the moment - does there need to be guidance on what a university course should do/provide?
2) There is a gap between the industry and universities in terms of pace - the industry often work at a faster pace than universities which can cause problems with partnerships.
3) There is suspicion on both sides (universities and the industry) about the other side (for example, common comments might include from the industry that university lecturers are out of date or from universities that the industry are using them and their resources such as space)
4) Over the last 5 - 10 years, there has been a growing interest in partnerships between the industry and universities.
We'll be reporting back on the full results from the survey at London Writers' Week in July, but, in the meantime, we hope the House of Lords inquiry will cover writing training and look particularly at the impact of the closure of the A Level Creative Writing and the affect this is bound to have on the diversity of writers in the UK.
To complete the survey on the future of dramatic writing training, please go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/dramaticwriting
To sign the petition to save the A Level Creative Writing please go to: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/reinstate-the-creative-writing-a-level
For more information on the new partnership between the MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martins and Oberon Books to provide access for teachers, students and writers to the leading industry writing training please go to: https://oberonbooks.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/the-masters-at-work/