Author: Julian Sefton-Green
Full reference: Sefton-Green, J. (2011). Creative Agents: A Review and Research Project. Newcastle: Creativity, Culture and Education.
Summary of key findings
Creative Partnerships and Creative Agents:
The key purpose of this research was to offer CCE a single overarching review of the work of Creative Agents framed within an analysis of salient concerns driving the wider ecology of educational provision across England.
The Creative Agent role developed throughout the life of the Creative Partnerships programme that ran from 2002 – 2011. They came to be an increasingly crucial part of the programme, especially from 2008 after Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) restructured the Creative Partnerships offer and programme delivery.
They were experienced creative practitioners, highly skilled at working in educational settings in an advisory and enabling capacity. Their key skills were to:
- Build relationships;
- Manage partnerships;
- Develop and deliver programmes;
- Broker contractual arrangements with other practitioners;
- Help identify the creative practitioners who would bring appropriate skills to Creative Partnerships projects;
- Advise on programme development and project management;
- Act as a ‘critical friend’ to challenge thinking and practice.
Objectives of the research were to:
- Produce a descriptive study of Creative Agents as a subset of both the creative and education workforces including quantitative analysis of employment, regional patterns and diversity (section 4 of report);
- Produce a more detailed understanding of Creative Agent roles (section 5 and 6 of the report);
- Analyse types of Agent pedagogy and effective practice from differing perspectives (section 5 and 6 of the report).
- The report author felt that CCE instigated an appropriate framework for the definition, recruitment and induction of Creative Agents, with Agents seeming well qualified and carrying out work well.
- Area Delivery Organisations (ADOs) who were the local independent bodies delivering Creative Partnerships, had positive and at times rigorous relationships with Agents. There seemed to be a close fit between Agent skills, School activities and programme demands – albeit with a tension between the audit and creative activities of the work.
- The workforce is complex and clearly plays an active role in determining and influencing programme.
- The workforce is valued and valuable and sustaining their work will be difficult.
- The development of a professionalised ‘para professional’ creative labour force (those trained to assist professionals but not themselves licensed at a professional level) is seen by the author as a credit to CCE and the ADOs, albeit not without its internal tensions, management challenges and workforce peculiarities.
Research Questions & Methodology
- This work was developed as a research and review project, not as an evaluation;
- The project ran over the course of the year May 2010‐March 2011;
- Data was drawn from the Creative Partnerships Projects Database held by CCE;
- This was supplemented by surveys, interviews, and observation, along with policy and research reviews.
Read the report.