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Research Documents

Research reports commissioned by the Crafts Council

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.

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.

Lauren England blogs about the research here and a summary of her joint paper is here.

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.

Using digital technology to understand and support diversity in craft practice

This research project 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.

Crafting professional practice through Higher Education, a collaborative PhD between King’s College London and Crafts Council.

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, supporting a doctoral researcher to gain an insight into trends in business and practice in UK craft. We will be posting updates on progress and findings through the project, which will in turn inform the Crafts Council’s business planning.

Lauren England, the doctoral researcher leading the project, blogs here about her aspirations for the research. You can find her first year summary report here.

Studying Craft 16 

The latest Studying Craft figures from the Crafts Council show that craft education remains in crisis. Over the last seven years, the numbers of students studying craft GCSEs have plummeted by nearly 25%, the number of design and technology students has dropped by 41%, and higher education courses have fallen by 50% since 2007/08.

Studying Craft 16 indicates that whilst the number of students taking entry level courses in further education has boomed to 67,340 since 2007/08, only 8% of these students progress to more advanced courses indicating a decline in the development of new professional talent.

Biosalon Paper 

Biosalon was set up to provide a critical space for designers and scientists exploring the future uses and applications of living matter to come together and discuss the implications of biofabrications for their respective practices. This follow-up publication has emerged from the Biosalon conversations and is structured around a set of five questions.

Biosalon was the first of a series of events organised in preparation of 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.


Innovation Through Craft: Opportunities for growth

Our latest report, graphics and case study cards point to evidence points 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.


Measuring the Craft Economy - Defining and measuring craft: report 3 

Measuring the Craft Economy 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 (June 2013) and Defining and measuring craft: Proposals for a way forward (June 2013).  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).

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 latest update was produced in November 2014 (Studying Craft 2) and is available below.

The research examined all stages of formal education and training from Key Stage 4 to postgraduate study to look at provision and participation in craft courses for the last five academic years.

Read the Studying Craft press release

All Research Reports