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.
For a quick summary of our research findings:
To view the report full screen, please click the icon in the bottom right hand corner.
Most recent report
Supporting Diversity and Expertise Development in the Contemporary Craft Economy explores the experiences of makers as women of colour– in studios, at craft fairs, and online. The findings derive from interviews conducted by Dr Karen Patel as part of a collaboration between Birmingham City University and the Crafts Council. The project aims to provide insights into the experiences of BAME women makers. The initial findings point to barriers for people in minority groups to become professional makers that are social, cultural and economic.
Dr Patel also blogs about her research here.
The Crafts Council’s summary of current work towards an inclusive craft sector is here.
The craft economy
Craft and Social Enterprise
Craft and Social Enterprise is an exploratory study into social enterprise and craft. It extends our understanding of the power of craft to transform communities, with the featured social enterprises putting social justice and purpose at the heart of what they do.
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.
Our latest report, Exports 2017-2019 shows a decrease in the number of makers participating in export activities internationally and a decline in the percentage of makers’ turnover from export sales.
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 (Exports 1) sets out the findings from our first survey.
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 (2012), 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 (2010) profiles the contemporary craft market in a changing economy.
Trends in craft education and training
Using digital technology to understand and support diversity in craft practice
Supporting Diversity in Craft Practice, by Dr Karen Patel, examines the creative drivers and some of the challenges facing Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women makers in the UK specifically in relation to their online profile and presence.We are delighted to be partnering Birmingham City University in this AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship with the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. Dr Karen Patel, the post-doctoral researcher leading the project, blogs here about the development of the project.
You will be able to find Dr Patel’s first report, Supporting Diversity in Craft Practice, here and her latest working paper, Supporting Diversity and Expertise Development in the Contemporary Craft Economy, here.
Dr Patel’s Maker Stories podcasts in which she interviews inspirational crafts women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are here in our Learning and Talent Development resources section. Dr Patel’s latest blog is here.
The Crafts Council’s summary of current work towards an inclusive craft sector is here.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
Further craft research
All Crafts Council research reports
Craft and Social Enterprise - 2019
Supporting Makers to Export - 2017-2019
Who Makes? An Analysis of People Working in Craft Occupations – 2018
Crafting professional practice through higher education – 2018
How do diverse makers use social media? - 2018
Supporting makers to export: survey findings 2018 (Exports 2)
Supporting makers to export report - 2018
Innovation Through Craft: Opportunities for growth – 2016
Studying Craft 16: report - 2016
Studying Craft 16: Data Workbook - 2016
Studying Craft 16: Animation - 2016
Innovation Through Craft: Opportunities for growth - executive summary – 2016
Biosalon paper: How will the intersection of design and biological fabrication open up to new ways of ‘making’ and ‘crafting’ in the future? - 2015
Researching Craft: An analysis of Research Excellence Framework impact case studies relevant to craft - 2015
Measuring the Craft Economy - 2014
Studying Craft 2: update on trends in craft education and training - 2014
Studying Craft 2 : Data workbook 2 - 2014
Studying Craft: Executive Summary of report 1- 2014
Studying Craft: Full Report 1- 2014
Studying Craft: Data Workbook 1 - 2014
Making It Local: what does this mean in the context of contemporary craft? 2014
Defining and measuring craft: Definitions 1998 – 2012 - 2013
Defining and measuring craft: Proposals for a way forward - 2013
How Makers and Craft Organisations are Using Social Media - 2012
Craft & Enterprise - 2012
From Cell to System – Making Innovation Work - 2012
Craft in an Age of Change - 2012
Education Literature Review - 2011
Craft and Higher Education - 2011
Crafting Capital: New technologies, new economies - 2011
Craft and Rural Development - 2011
Craft & the Digital World - 2011
Craft and Wellbeing – 2011
Craft & Environmental Sustainability - 2010
Consuming Craft - 2010
Making Value - 2010
Crafting Futures - 2010