Yesterday I was in Westminster again for a meeting with John Hayes the skills minister.
It is difficult to put into words how positive things are for traditional crafts at the moment. After years of being the poor relation to the innovative artistic end of the craft spectrum it seems things are really changing.
The ministers officials are working on a plan with various key points to help and support traditional crafts. First and most important there will be a mapping project which will identify how many traditional craftspeople are out there, which crafts are healthy, which in danger of dying out and which offer good opportunities for growth. This will also look at training provision and entry routes to the crafts, we have a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests that once established traditional crafts businesses are doing quite nicely with strong consumer demand but it is difficult to get established and get funding for training.
This will be a second strand of the ministers work looking at apprenticeships and the best and most appropriate ways of addressing the issues the research highlights.
A third and equally important strand will be the development of a high profile craft award to truly recognise the contribution of dedicated craftspeople make to our cultural heritage.
This will all take a long time to filter down to show benefits to individual craftspeople in their workshops but it will happen and it will make a difference. Another thing that will make a difference in the shorter term is there seem to be a plethora of TV shows in the pipeline at the moment. Barely a week goes by without the Heritage Crafts Association being contacted for information about potential craftspeople to feature in new series. The pitches vary quite a lot but one we heard about today sounds a real winner and we are hoping it will make it through the commissioning process. Can’t share details at this stage but there is no doubt in 6-12 months time there will be a whole lot of craft on your TV.