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Research Documents

Research reports commissioned by the Crafts Council

On this page you will find our most recent research and a list of our key research reports by theme. A full list of all our research reports is at the bottom of the page.

The Craft Economy

Who Makes? An Analysis of People Working in Craft Occupations
This 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.

Measuring the Craft Economy
Our research findings explore the craft economy through a series of reports that measure the craft economy and examine patterns in exports, enterprise and consumption.

Measuring the Craft Economy - Defining and measuring craft: report 3 gives the fullest picture to date of the value and scale of craft’s contribution to the UK economy.

The findings in this report build on proposals set out in the Crafts Council’s 2013 series of reports Defining and measuring craft: Definitions 1998 – 2012 and Defining and measuring craft: Proposals for a way forward.  This report measures the contribution of craft not only within craft industries, but also across the creative industries and wider economy.

The craft economy generates nearly £3.4bn for the UK economy, accounting for 0.3% of UK GVA (gross value added).

Supporting makers to export
Supporting makers to export explores how UK makers working in a range of disciplines are exporting internationally. We are keen to strengthen makers’ export capability and to gain insight into craft exports before trade relations and laws change following Brexit. This small (non-scientific) survey of makers’ needs identifies some of the barriers to exporting and shows that a quarter of respondents’ sales are from international work. The report will inform our programming to support makers’ professional development.

Craft and Enterprise
Contemporary craft makers businesses are self-reliant and resilient, often producing work that enables growth in other sectors. In this briefing note, Craft and Enterprise, we explore craft makers’ potential contribution to enterprise and entrepreneurial agendas and investigate how craft businesses could – with the right support and brokerage - help to make a success of new investment and education programmes.

Consuming Craft
Consuming Craft profiles the contemporary craft market in a changing economy.

Trends in craft education and training

Studying Craft: trends in craft education and training
The Studying Craft series of reports is research commissioned by the Crafts Council and is a comprehensive examination of contemporary craft education in England. The time series research examines all stages of formal education and training from Key Stage 4 to postgraduate study from 2007/08, looking at provision and participation in craft courses. Supported by full data workbooks that detail information by education stage, demographics and geography, the figures from the study show that craft education remains in crisis.

Crafting professional practice through higher education
This research project aims to assess the development of sustainable practice in the UK’s contemporary craft sector. One route to professional practice is through the development of new craft professionals in higher education. The project investigates how knowledge acquisition and the development of such practices take place, in order to consider how the sector could be more resilient for the benefit of makers and audiences.

The Crafts Council is delighted to be partnering King’s College London in this project. The findings will inform the Crafts Council’s business planning. Supported by a Professor Sir Richard Trainor Scholarship, Lauren England is researching how people studying craft in Higher Education learn the professional and entrepreneurial skills they need to continue their creative practice once out of education.

Lauren is posting updates throughout her PhD. If you would like to contact Lauren about her research please get in touch at lauren.england@kcl.ac.uk.

Creative clusters and the evolution of knowledge and skills: from industrial to creative glassmaking
This paper explores the relationship between industrial and post-industrial knowledge, with a focus on glassmaking. The paper (drawing on research by Lauren England and Dr Roberta Comunian, King’s College London) calls for greater understanding of the resilience of these skills across the craft sector. Further investigation is needed to preserve and transfer knowledge in post-industrial clusters and support the sustainable development of new craft-based production in the creative economy.

A summary of this joint paper is here.

Using digital technology to understand and support diversity in craft practice
How do diverse makers use social media? explores how social media could be used to support diversity in craft practice. The project complements the Crafts Council’s wider ambition to achieve the highest standards of practice to stimulate, promote and celebrate diversity in contemporary craft and audiences. The findings are intended to help articulate how digital technology can be used to support skills development and entrepreneurship in craft. The research will contribute to critical understandings of digital technology in craft practice and will result in a series of academic and policy outputs.

We are delighted to be partnering Birmingham City University in this AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship with the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. Karen Patel, the post-doctoral researcher leading the project, blogs here about the start of the project and invites participation in the research.

Innovation In and Through Craft

Innovation Through Craft: Opportunities for growth
Our report, graphics and case study cards, point to evidence that the UK is at risk of failing to take advantage of its expertise in craft. Innovation through Craft: Opportunities for growth, describes the way in which collaboration drives innovation and how we can make the most of its economic potential. Working with partners the Knowledge Transfer Network and the University of Brighton, the Crafts Council commissioned KPMG to investigate the processes and economic impact of innovation through craft.

Biosalon paper: How will the intersection of design and biological fabrication open up to new ways of ‘making’ and ‘crafting’ in the future?
Biosalon paper emerged from the Biosalon conversations, a critical space for designers and scientists to explore the future uses and applications of living matter. Biosalon was the first of a series of events organised in preparation for Make:Shift. It was a joint initiative organised by the Crafts Council and the Design & Living Systems Lab at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Participants came together to discuss the implications of biofabrications for their respective practices. This follow-up publication is structured around a set of five questions.

Crafting Capital: New technologies, new economies
Crafting capital illustrates how collaboration accelerates innovation: by working together, people with different but complementary expertise can challenge conventional thinking and find unexpected new directions in their work.

From Cell to System – Making Innovation Work
Based on Crafting Capital, this paper was used as a discussion paper at the Council for Higher Education and Learning conference in March 2012.

All Crafts Council Research Reports