Thanks for a great 2010 and best wishes for 2011

The Heritage Crafts Association year in brief – 2010

2010 has been a fantastic year for traditional crafts and for the Heritage Crafts Association in particular. We would like to thank you for your support and share a few of the highlights.

We started the year with the prediction on our blog that 2010 would be the year that traditional crafts became recognised as part of our heritage and ended with John Penrose the Heritage Minister giving us a statement recognising “crafts which are valuable parts of our heritage”.

In January we became a registered charity. That month we also sent out an online survey for traditional craftspeople which resulted in valuable information about the state of the industry. This was later used in a BBC news item. HCA were delighted that distinguished craft writer Professor Tanya Harrod joined the committee, and Professor Ted Collins joined us as a Patron.

An HCA highlight was in March when we held our official Launch and Heritage Forum at the V&A with chairs of many craft guilds and societies coming together to discuss how we could work together for a vibrant future for traditional crafts. We were joined by many of the mentors from the Mastercrafts programmes and inspirational speeches by Ewan Clayton and Phil Harding were given. If you missed it details, results of everyone’s input and transcripts of speeches are all online

Alongside many other meetings with various influential people, we met with Jeremy Hunt (now Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) and Mick Elliott (Director of Culture at DCMS). Both recognised that traditional crafts were falling through the gap between heritage and arts organisations.

Crafts were in the limelight on TV with Monty Don fronting Mastercrafts and HCA Patron Alex Langlands co-presenting Edwardian Farm.

Direct HCA successes included helping the country’s last sievemaker find a successor before he retired, thus saving the craft from extinction and, working with others, saving the respected NETS course at Hereford. In June we launched our Craft Map, a free service that allows craftspeople to input their data, and customers to find local craftspeople. This will soon be updated with a searchable database to make it more accessible for people wanting to find the best traditional crafts online. HCA also worked with CCSkills to write the National Occupational Standards for craft, and are helping them to take these forward. This is the first stage in a long process towards getting funding for accredited training and apprenticeships.

In July we publicised the book by Matt Crawford Shop Class as Soul Class later published in the UK as “the case for working with your hands” This book has since been mentioned by no less than four government ministers. It may be expected that the culture ministers would be interested, but John Hayes and David Willetts both in the Department for Business innovation and Skills have also quoted from it. John Hayes went as far as calling for a new Arts and Crafts movement. He has agreed to meet with HCA early in 2011.

In November The UNESCO world heritage list was much in the news despite there being no examples of living heritage from the UK included. This again highlighted that UK heritage policy is lagging behind world heritage policy.

Lord Cormack has taken up the HCA cause and arranged a meeting at the Athenaeum in February to discuss heritage crafts with key invited guests.

We were delighted to be supported by the Headley Trust who have agreed to fund a part-time administrator for two years. HCA received an amazing and welcome 241 applications for the post and appointed Sally Dodson to start in January 2011.

We also received generous and welcome donations from the Association of Pole Lathe Turners and Green Woodworkers, The Fletchers Trust and the Dorset Coppice Group as well as many individuals. Since March individuals and groups have been able to join the HCA Friends scheme and have been very generous in their support for our work, which has been much appreciated. See our friends here

We continue to gather examples of crafts under threat such as the historic boatyard at Faversham where the buildings are listed but the boatbuilding skills are not to wonderful examples of vibrant traditional crafts, such as saddle making in Walsall or riving slate at Honister in Cumbria.

In September following an HCA initiative Sheffield Council set aside funds and staff time to research into the skills of the City metal trades; this is a six month project with results due in spring 2011. The more evidence we can gather, the stronger case we can make to government.

So 2010 has been quite a journey, and 2011 promises even more progress. We have exciting things planned, such as our Spring Conference at the V&A on Saturday March 19th, and there is a great deal of work going on behind the scenes – more to follow in the new year. We continue, though, to look for ‘start-up’ or day-to-day funding, as the lack of this greatly restricts what we are able to do.

We try not to email our supporters too often with spam but if you would like more regular updates keep an eye on our blog which is updated regularly or join the HCA facebook group  and follow us on twitter.

We very much appreciate the support of all our friends and volunteers in 2010, and send our best wishes to everyone for the festive season. We look forward to working with you all to make 2011 an even better year for traditional crafts.

Best wishes Robin

Robin Wood
Chair Heritage Crafts Association

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