The New Year’s Honours “recognise the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.” On the 30 December, the government released a list that named 1164 individuals who would receive an honour ranging from the Order of Merit to an OBE. Notable inclusions from creative industries included designer James Dyson, architects Joanna van Heyningen, Bob Allies and Graham Morrison, and photographer Clive Blackmore.
There was not one graphic designer or illustrator on the list. Continuing a recent trend of the honours lists ignoring disciplines that define visual culture in the UK and abroad.
The Honours list may be deemed an archaic award bestowed upon an individual by the establishment, but it’s striking that photographers, illustrators and graphic designers are infrequently recognised when practitioners of other creative fields such as art, music and architecture appear more regularly.
Although honours may not resonate within the industry as much as peer recognition or industry awards, they do serve as a gauge of what is valued by the establishment and where public interest lies – the public are able to nominate people for inclusion. Each year the heads of arts and education institutions are recognised for their services (this year includes Pat Borer, Godfrey Worsdale and Anita Zabludowitz), arts prs have been honoured in recent years (Erica Bolton and Jane Quinn in 2014), and it begs the question why do the wider creative industries get so regularly overlooked?
We are constantly reminded that creativity, innovation and invention are one of our most prized characteristics, or even a quantifiable asset. In his 2015 budget statement chancellor George Osborne explicitly referenced the creative industries as a “huge contributor to the economy.” And in early 2015 Culture secretary Sajid Javid said “Government is determined to continue its support for this most dynamic of sectors as part of our long-term economic plan.”
Does the failure of individuals, seen as figureheads and inspirations to the industry, to appear on this list reflect a lack of understanding or recognition of the creative industry as a whole? The people whose work visibly and physically defines British culture, and is championed as an economic driver, are overlooked frequently. Should we be worried?
About the Author
Owen joined It’s Nice That as Editor in November of 2015 leading and overseeing all editorial content across online, print and the events programme, before leaving in early 2018.