Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by the Crafts Council (arts 88)


1. The Crafts Council welcomes the opportunity to contribute evidence to the Commons Select Inquiry into Funding of the Arts and Heritage. Our response addresses point one of the review: ‘What impact recent, and future, spending cuts from central and local Government will have on the arts and heritage at a national and local level.’

2. Our view, supported by research conducted in the period 2004 – 2010, is that:

· Craft is an enterprising sector in which businesses and social enterprises bring about a range of significant economic and social impacts;

· The public sector plays a crucial role in maximizing the sector’s impact, through small and specific, intelligent interventions made at key moments in the business lifecycle.

· The loss of these interventions would undermine the sector’s potential and the economic and social benefits it brings.

3. In our analysis, we draw on our 2004 sector mapping study

McCauley A and Finnis I (2004): Making it in the 21st Century. London, Crafts Council.

, our craft ‘Sector Profile and Analysis’ document

, and further research we undertook in 2010 to investigate portfolio working in the contemporary craft sector,

Schwarz M and Yair K (2010): Making Value: craft & the economic and social contribution of makers. London, Crafts Council.

craft graduate career paths

Hunt W, Ball L and Pollard E (2010): Crafting Futures: a study of the early careers of crafts graduates from UK higher education institutions. London, Crafts Council.

and the size of the market for contemporary craft

Morris Hargreaves McIntyre (2010): Consuming Craft: the contemporary craft market in a changing economy. London, Crafts Council.

September 2010


4. We consider that entrepreneurship and social enterprise will become increasingly important within the arts and heritage, in a time of public sector austerity. Craft demonstrates clearly how modest public sector investment and intervention can unlock creative entrepreneurship which would otherwise remain unrealized.

Direct economic impact:

5 . Craft businesses make a small yet significant, direct contribution to the UK economy, comparable in GVA terms with music. The whole craft sector:

· Employs 88,250 people in the UK .

· Makes a £3bn annual contribution to the UK economy, higher than that of the visual arts, cultural heritage or literature sectors.

· Represents 13% of all those employed in the UK ’s creative industries.

· Contributes 12% of the creative industries sector’s GVA (in comparison with music at 17% and design at 24% ).

· Demonstrates higher employment growth rates than any other creative industries sub-sector (11% between 1997 and 2006).

6 . The contemporary craft sector:

· Employs just under half of the craft sector: 34,744 contemporary makers work in England , Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland .

· Produces a turnover in excess of £1bn per annum.

· Doubled in size, in terms of value of sales, between 1994 and 2004.

· Serves a market of 16.9 million people in England , and a further potential market of 9.6 million people in England .

7 . Actual direct economic impact is likely to be significantly larger than indicated above, as available statistics exclude crucial elements of the craft sector production cycle (e.g. trade, retail, education).

Spillover benefits:

8. Entrepreneurial portfolio working is prevalent in the contemporary craft sector: studies show 50–70% of makers working entrepreneurially to create careers in this way. Whilst we represent a sector which is particularly well-placed to work across the creative industries and beyond, we are certain that this phenomenon is repeated in other areas of the arts.

9. Our recent research found makers work in a far greater range of places, and with more different types of people, than previously realised or recorded. From fashion to film, hospitals to heritage, manufacturing to mental health projects and from retailing to residential courses, the research showed that makers are entrepreneurial and highly motivated in applying their practice across industry sectors and community and education settings. We found that:

· Makers work in the wider creative and cultural industry sectors, and beyond. They have developed their craft knowledge and craft thinking into uniquely valuable consultancy services. They apply the expressive value which defines craft as a ‘core creative field’ within the creative economy, contributing specialist knowledge to the performing arts, film, television and digital media. They contribute to economic growth in sectors such as manufacturing, driving innovation in products and processes through their materials knowledge. Their particular understanding of how people relate to material qualities and objects, in both a functional and emotional sense, informs distinctive contributions in fields as diverse as healthcare and cultural tourism.

· Makers move with agility between different projects, finding creative impetus in their engagement in other sectors and settings. They are excited by how different elements of their portfolio practice creatively feed off each other and do not always see a distinction between ‘own work’ and ‘other work’. Makers are keen to collaborate and always actively looking for learning. They demonstrate resourcefulness and resilience, using entrepreneurial strategies to sustain a successful portfolio practice.

· Makers are engaged in community based projects in a wide variety of settings, facilitating people to work from their interests, concerns and existing skills to find new ways of expressing themselves. Craft participation uniquely offers people the opportunity to work with materials, make objects with meaning and permanence, while engaging in conversations that build individual worth and community value. In terms of craft and the social contribution of makers, the practice and the people give material voice to those who are often ‘hard to hear’. Through making, participants attain a sense of achievement and ownership; experience the enjoyment of the immediacy and concreteness of materials; and build confidence, self esteem and a sense of value.

· Makers working in educational settings support students to gain confidence through the processes of making and realising the achievement of producing something. This increases their sense of autonomy and control, which can have positive impacts on their personal and academic development. Students learn specific craft skills, become more aware of the origination and characteristics of materials and also develop more general, transferable skills such as coping with problems and finding that ‘things don’t always go right’, but that they can learn from this. Makers are able to work with more freedom than is often allowed to teachers, in turn giving the students more freedom, enabling them to follow different making paths to express themselves as they need and want.

The Role of Public Sector Funding:

10. Our research shows that makers are driven by pursuit of their creative, professional and ethical goals to engage in highly entrepreneurial and proactive business behaviour. Often without high levels of available working capital, they invest significant time into their businesses, typically contributing over 40 days each year to research and development alone as well as becoming highly networked and proactive in seeking out new opportunities.

11. For the majority of makers reviewing their career for the purposes of our research, this investment in their own development had been matched by interventions from arts / creative industries support agencies, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and generic business support services, which had enabled business start-up and / or catalysed growth. In particular:

· Short, focused courses, run either by specialist creative business support agencies or by Business Link, had equipped makers with the basic information they needed to start up in business and to consider new directions (such as export) in business strategy.

· Mentoring at mid-career stage had often lead to the ‘eureka moments’ which unlocked creative and business potential, enabling makers to identify their unique capabilities and skills, or to find ways of applying these in new ways. Many mid-career makers described having become ‘stuck’, perhaps over-committed to too many different elements of a portfolio career, lacking time or investment to innovate and develop new work, and / or unable to find new markets. In all cases, mentoring or other forms of Continuing Professional Development had clarified business aims and objectives, and set the maker on course for further business growth and creative development.

· Brokering and knowledge transfer programmes had connected makers with industry partners, leading to new products, services and innovations for both partners. In particular, knowledge transfer partnerships between Higher Education Institutions, local industrial companies had enabled makers to increase their scales of production and local companies to develop new competencies, marketable to other clients.

12. Whilst we understand that Higher Education is not the focus of this enquiry, we also note that public sector funding of teaching and research in HEIs also plays a particularly significant role in the craft sector, with the majority of makers being graduates of honours degree courses, and with HEIs undertaking cutting-edge research which leads the sector in terms of innovation.

13. Our considered view is that specific, timely and appropriate forms of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), developed and funded by the public sector, are crucial to business and creative growth within micro-enterprises without large available assets or working capital. Such businesses are prevalent, not only within contemporary craft but also across the arts and heritage sectors. Without public sector investment, these businesses and social enterprises are – in many cases – unlikely to reach start-up, and are – in others – unlikely to reach the scales of production, quality of innovation, reach of market or impact on communities or economies of which we know they are capable.