I am delighted to be part of the judging panel for a new national craft skills award which is being supported by HRH The Prince of Wales. The awards were launched on Thursday and these are the Prince’s words of support.
“I have always had a huge admiration for those who have the talent to use their hands, mind and eye in a way that can produce objects and buildings of great beauty.
I believe most strongly that it is vital to support and encourage these remarkable craftsmen and women to ensure the survival of such unique and special skills. That is why I am so pleased that a Craft Skills Awards scheme has been established, to identify and celebrate all the wonderful work that is being done across the country. I am only sorry that I cannot be with you today to attend the launch in person and do hope that you will forgive my absence.
The future of craft skills is at great risk, like so much else that is of timeless value in this world. There has been a gradual and widespread loss of the family firm and master craftsmen, through whom traditional skills were passed down from generation to generation and from master to apprentice. Seventy-seven percent of those practising heritage crafts do not currently undertake activities to pass their skills and knowledge onto others, while higher education specialist craft courses are closing due to lack of funding, capacity and reasons of practicality.
In addition to preserving these special craft skills, it is also vital to show that maintaining these traditions is not simply hanging on to the past, but vital for bringing genuine economic, cultural and environmentally sustainable benefits to our communities today and for generations to come. For example, there is considerable and growing demand abroad, particularly in the Far East, for so many of this country’s wonderful crafts – both heritage and those more contemporary – and we must do all we can to capitalise on this appeal.
I am delighted to support these Awards, which I hope will encourage the next generation of craft-makers and demonstrate that the skills and expertise of craftsmen and women continue to make an invaluable contribution to this country’s culture, economy and heritage. I am sure that today’s launch will prove a successful and thought-provoking event and I would like to offer my warmest best wishes to the organisers. I very much look forward to hearing more about the Awards and, of course the winners, next year.”
This has got to be great news for raising the status of craft skills.