Saturday, 27 June 2009

traditional crafts debated in the House of Commons

At the Heritage Crafts Association we are delighted that less than six months from our formation we have seen the state of traditional crafts debated in the House of Commons with the Culture Minister answering questions.

Speaking at an adjournment debate on Traditional Crafts in the House of Commons this Thursday Barbara Follett said:

"We are keen that the rich intangible cultural heritage of the United
Kingdom is properly valued and, when necessary, preserved…. Whether tangible or intangible, however, our heritage is a marvellous asset that we want to protect and nurture.”

She then called on local and regional authorities to do their bit along with central Government and its agencies to support these vital heritage crafts.

“As a Regional Minister, I see a role for the regional development agencies and local authorities. They need to play their part, along with central Government and non-departmental bodies, in ensuring that our traditional skills are upheld and preserved.”

I am sure my friend Mike Turnock the sievemaker never thought he would hear the Culture Minister say:

" no serious gardener, anxious to keep his or her soil in good tilth, would be without a good quality riddle—and, should they be in need of one, Michael Turnock is just the man to supply it."

The full transcript of the 30 minute debate is available at the they work for you website and on Hansard.

It seems somehow appropriate that Mike's riddles should be mentioned since it was in his workshop 6 months ago that the seeds of the HCA were sown, see pictures of his workshop and that visit in my blog post here. And here is one of the pictures of Mike at work.

This is our official HCA response.

“ The Heritage Crafts Association welcomes the Culture Minister''s comments in support of the traditional or heritage craft skills of this country. For people like Mike Turner, the last traditional sieve maker in this country, Barbara Follet’s comments represent a beacon of hope that when they retire, their skills gained from a lifetime of practicing traditional crafts may not fade away with them.”

“However, we are concerned that the full picture of the value of the heritage crafts to the economy, and the scale of the loss that lack of action could produce, both the loss of cultural traditions stretching back in some cases thousands of years, and the loss of economic potential which this cottage industry presents has not yet been fully appreciated by the Government. In light of the Minister's comments in support of traditional crafts, it seems fair to ask for some alternative plan to safeguard this vital part of our living heritage, and some money to do it with. We look forward to continuing to discuss these issues with the Minister and her department on an ongoing basis”

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