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  • Work by Crafts Council Maker Maria Wodjat Ceramics

Policy Brief February 2018

​This month we publish our research on the demographic characteristics of people working in craft occupations and report on new data soon to be available on craft exports.

In addition, we cover further research,

The craft economy

Who Makes? An Analysis of People Working in Craft Occupations

Our latest report describes the demographic characteristics of people working in craft occupations. The Crafts Council is keen to ensure that accurate data, supported by an analysis of the sector’s characteristics, are available both to makers and policy-makers who wish to understand craft. The Crafts Council has been working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to improve official data on the craft sector. 

The report complements the Crafts Council’s research evidence which demonstrates that craft is a thriving sector that contributes £3.4bn to the UK economy. It is important to note that this analysis is based on those using craft skills not only in craft businesses, but also in creative businesses and in the wider creative economy. This is a broader definition than we used in our 2012 report, Craft in an Age of Change, but it also continues to reflect the importance of particular self-employment and part-time employment patterns of the women makers visible in our 2012 findings.

Craft Exports data

Following consultations with makers and negotiations between the Crafts Council and DCMS, we’re pleased to confirm that DCMS will now include a broader range of craft categories in UK export figures. The next set of trade statistics to be published in early summer will not only include jewellery but also categories in leather, wood, basketwork, textiles, ceramics, glass and metal.

A House of Commons debate on a UK Research Centre for Ceramics took place on 21 February. Jack Brereton, MP for Stoke on Trent South, set out the research case for the industry and the town. He highlighted constituents’ skills and employment needs, drawing on evidence from the Crafts Council’s report Studying Craft 16: trends in craft education and training.

Roberta Comunian and Lauren England (King’s College, London) explore the relationship between industrial and post-industrial craft skills in Creative clusters and the evolution of knowledge and skills: From industrial to creative glassmaking, now published in Geoforum.

The creative economy

The Creative Industries Federation’s Global Trade Report looks at how to maximise the industries’ export value and minimise barriers to trade as we approach Brexit.

Arts Council England has published two reports on the sector's relationships with the EU. Assessing the EU’s contribution to the arts, museums & creative industries highlights the £40 million a year the creative industries receive from the EU. The Impact of Brexit on the arts and culture sector survey of artists and arts and culture organisations found that 67% had done some kind of international work in the last two years and a third of the organisations currently employ EU nationals.

Creative Nation uses official, open and web data to map the creative industries in the UK, their evolution, contribution to local economic development, the strength of their support ecosystems - including research and informal networking - and their connections with each other. Although the small size of some craft clusters prevented them from featuring in all of the analysis, the report, published by Nesta, identifies a hub of craft and making in the north-west. It also shows the significant increase in Meetups in craft over the last five years.

The Art Fund and Wolfson Foundation report, Why Collect? calls for increased investment in museums and their collections as the gap grows between the price of works on the international art market and the limited acquisition funds available to museums and galleries in the UK.

In its response to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, the Government has confirmed it will issue guidance to employers to try and reduce the number of unpaid internships. This will spell out when businesses are legally obliged to pay at least the national minimum wage.

Shadow Education Minister Tracy Brabin (MP for Batley and Spen) has presented a Private Members Bill to Parliament calling for self-employed workers to be given access to shared parental leave. Such bills rarely pass into law and serve, instead, as an opportunity to raise awareness of an issue. However, the bill will be debated again by MPs on 11 May.

Crafts Council evidence to the DCMS Select Committee on the impact of the arts, cultural activities and sport

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been investigating ways in which taking part in the arts, cultural activities and sport can have a positive impact on health, community and education. The Crafts Council has submitted evidence focusing on how craft activities and material engagement speak directly to the values and ambitions of the Inquiry.