I finally had a reply via my MP from culture minister Barbara Follet to my letter sent in February asking what the government were doing for heritage crafts in response to the UNESCO convention on living heritage. I am disappointed in the lack of depth to the answer given it took over 3 months to prepare, but at least it is a starting point for discussion.
There are a few good points, “the government is…supportive of the aims of the convention, and is keen that the rich intangible cultural heritage of the UK should be valued, and where necessary, preserved.”
She tells us about the excellent Scottish ICH research here and says “I hope that similar research will be carried out in England.” though makes no suggestion as to how that would come about, who would conduct it or how it would be funded.
The HLF have funded various projects and Barbara quotes a figure of £446m to 1300 projects though I suspect the figure is the result of searching their past projects with a keyword such as craft. It doesn’t tell us that a high proportion goes to building crafts because they have English Heritage, National Trust and the National Heritage Training Group to make applications. The £7m “heritage Skills Bursary Scheme” is a case in point where all the money went to building and conservation crafts, all good projects but it still leaves the basketmakers, scissors makers, craft potters etc out of the picture.
I shall be writing to Tom Levitt asking that we arrange a meeting with Barbara Follett to discuss these issues and in particular to see how we can get a survey like the Scottish one funded.