Our Priorities

A child and two adults work on some clay at a table covered in craft materials
Craft workshop at Arts for Recorvery in the Community, Stockport

Craft and health and wellbeing

Promoting the value of craft for health and wellbeing

Craft is having a moment and we must seize it! The mental health benefits of art and making came to the forefront during the Covid pandemic. People made masks, and sewed scrubs for the NHS. They made soft furnishings for their homes, took up new hobbies and ‘had a go’.

To be doing something (making, mending, creating or helping through craft), was experienced as both positive and healing. For some the change was small; a new hobby, interest or social group. For others it was life changing, leading to a review of life choices and maybe a new career.

Whether small or large, the benefits of craft to our mental health and wellbeing is underpinned with solid research and evidence, as the Crafts Council has outlined in their article ‘4 Reasons Craft is Good for You’.

What the effects of people’s rekindled interest in craft in the long term will be, is yet to emerge, but we hope to be able to build on these experiences into the future, to shape our organisations to provide these newfound benefits and help them to flourish.

Download the full text of ‘Our Priorities’ as a PDF below

A woman maker in an apron standing in her studio with her dog, surrounded by ceramics and homewares
Manchester Craft and Design Centre maker Katherine Lees. By Eden Photography

Supporting maker development

Supporting makers at all stages of their development and careers

Maker development encompasses all areas of a maker’s journey from early education and training, through to emerging, middle career and established makers, all of whom require support through the timeline. 

Recent changes to policy affecting Art and Design education, from high school, further and higher education, is having a major impact on the promotion of Craft as a valid career route and this will affect the pipeline of new talent entering the market.

It is important to review the support offered in terms of diversification of craft, talent development and sustainability for established makers. The benefit of Craft education is also far reaching in terms of skills for future job markets, as well as supporting the mental health agenda.  We will need to look to support the promotion of craft and design as career choices and look to promote the many and varied opportunities available for graduates entering the market.

Download the full text of ‘Our Priorities’ as a PDF below

Young woman designer holding a striking bag, and wearing a scarf and ring of her own design
Designer Ana Vera Cruz, Alumnus of the University of Bolton

Diversity and inclusion in craft

Addressing systemic racism and becoming more diverse and inclusive

The murder of George Floyd in 2020 was a wake-up call to us all to address longstanding structural inequality and racism and the dominance of white narratives in the craft sector. 

As the Crafts Council’s Market for Craft report (May 2020) says: “Craft is succeeding in offering an income stream and creative fulfilment for makers with disabilities, but the sector has to go further to ensure craft is an inclusive space for all ethnicities and genders, with the proportion of Black, Asian and ethnic minority makers remaining unchanged compared to 2006 at 2–4% and three quarters of makers identifying as female.”

The day to day realities of the inequalities in the prospects and experiences of these makers are further articulated in the ‘Making Changes in Craft’ report by Karen Patel. We need to be prepared to look honestly at ourselves and our own organisations, understand how we unwittingly support the status quo, and examine how we can make positive change. Meaningful change will take time, but there is a will within the Network for change to happen.

Download the full text of ‘Our Priorities’ as a PDF below