A major new research project promisses to shed light on the UK traditional craft sector for the first time.
When we started the Heritage Crafts Association 2 1/2 years ago one of our first objectives was to properly map the sector, to find out which crafts were endangered, which were doing well and which offered potential for growth. In fact it was the first objective in my wish list back in Jan 2009. We were told that to do this job properly would cost between £50,000 and £100,000 not the sort of money we had handy as a new charity.
After 2 years of gentle advocacy we were delighted when Skills Minister John Hayes announced that he would find funds for just the research we had been asking for. HCA were part of the interview panel and we are delighted that Trends Business Research Ltd have now been appointed to undertake this major project. The final report is due to be completed by next March and a whole lot of work has to be completed by then, creating a database of as many practicing craftspeople as possible will be key and we hope HCA friends and followers will be able to help us spread t=he word when the time comes.
What good will it do?
Well we have lots of anecdotal evidence that there are certain issues within our sector. eg elderly skilled craftspeople not able to pass on their skills to a following generation, lack of entry routes for young people to start in a career etc.
The stories we have collected have been enough to convince many people there is a real problem but in order to access funding to address the issues we need more proof of the size and nature of the situation, genuine research will also help us see clearly where the most pressing issues are and prioritise action. It will also be great to help publicise the fantastic work that does go on within the traditional craft sector which has often played second fiddle to the better funded innovative contemporary crafts.