In 1971 the Crafts Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed to advise the government ‘on the needs of the artist craftsman and to promote a nation-wide interest and improvement in their products’.
The first CAC meeting was held at the Council of Industrial Design (now the Design Council) on 6 October 1971 and was chaired by the Conservative minister Lord Eccles – who had responsibility for the arts. Lord Eccles opened the meeting with an outline of the kind of areas which the CAC might usefully investigate: loans and grants, exhibitions, regional links and craft education in schools.
In April 1979 the CAC was renamed the Crafts Council. It established independence from the Design Council and was granted a Royal Charter in 1982. The objective of the Crafts Council was ‘to advance and encourage the creation and conservation of works of fine craftsmanship and to foster, promote and increase the interest of the public in the works of fine craftsmen and the accessibility of those works to the public in England and Wales’.
In 1991 the Crafts Council moved to 44a Pentonville Road, London, where premises included a reference library, a shop, a café, an education workshop and a gallery space.
In 2006 the Crafts Council decreased its on-site activity and closed the gallery, shop, education workshop and café in order for the Crafts Council to increase its regional activity via partnership working.
In 2011, its 40th anniversary year, over 400,000 visitors saw its five temporary exhibitions, 27,000 people attended its craft fairs, and over 7,000 children and young people participated in its nationwide initiatives.