Our recent history, 2011 onwards
In 2012, the year of the London Olympics, the Crafts Council contributed to a showcase of British creative excellence at Lancaster House, a grand building run by the Foreign and Commonwealth office. This year marked the launch of our international trade programme, with a presentation at Design Days Dubai. International work increased over the subsequent five years, with projects taking place in Korea, Australia, Dubai, South Africa, Istanbul, Switzerland and the USA.
In 2013 we published a landmark report ‘Studying Craft’ which showed the decline of craft education in schools. Over three years we subsequently mapped craft’s decline in schools, which ultimately led to the publication of our education manifesto, 'Our Future is the Making’, in 2015, and the launch of ‘Make your Future’, our craft education programme in schools.
In 2014 our work on craft innovation saw us develop ‘Make Shift’ a conference held at Ravensbourne College of Art, and ‘Make Shift Do’ – a programme designed to help audiences of all kinds connect to maker spaces and the possibilities of craft. Parallel Practices followed soon after which supported makers to work in residence in a series of craft and technology and medical residencies .
Our sustained advocacy for the economic value of the sector continued with the publication of ‘Measuring the Craft Economy’, which used government SIC (standard industry classification) codes and estimated the value of the sector through these common measures.
The Crafts Council partners with the BBC and a group of cultural organisations on ‘Get Creative’, in 2015, an annual festival to celebrate and support the everyday creativity happening in homes and public spaces.
Reflecting the growing interest from the public in ceramics, we launch ‘Hey Clay’, a long weekend of clay focused activities where workshops and studios open their doors to the public, inviting them in to participate in open sessions, workshops and demonstrations.
In 2017, States of Play – a Crafts Council and Hull 2017 Partnership Exhibition, supported by the British Council, shows how play shapes our lives and the world around us.
Work by sixteen UK and international makers and designers challenge the idea that play is the preserve of children. Instead it was revealed as a creative, social and political force that infuses all areas of life.
After a decade of darkness at the Crafts Council Gallery, work to re-imagine the space begins in 2016 with the appointment of architecture practice AOC to work up initial designs.
A further collaboration with the BBC and the V&A sees the launch of the Women’s Hour Craft Prize in 2017, a national competition to mark Women’s Hour's 50th anniversary. The prize receives almost 1,500 entries, and is viewed by over 120,000 people in a national touring show. The winner, clay artist Phoebe Cummings, was awarded a Prize of £10,000 in a ceremony at the V&A broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 in November 2017
In 2018, Crafts Council x Creative Debuts presents Common Thread, a celebration of the diverse creatives in the UK and beyond. Over three months in 2018 we highlighted a selection of artists, culminating in an exhibition to celebrate the spirit of Notting Hill Carnival with 20 artists reflecting on African-Caribbean history, identity and culture.