Tuesday, 23 April 2013

DCMS consultation crafts are not "creative"

DCMS have published a consultation paper on "Classifying and measuring the creative industries" frankly most of this stuff is boring but this time there is an element that craftspeople should be interested in. It is a consultation paper which means it is a proposal there to be changed.

The paper proposed dropping craft as a category of creative industry, the key statement in the paper is on p14


"Most crafts businesses are too small to identify in business survey data, so while there has 
been a crafts section in the former classification, we’ve not been able to provide GVA data. 
.... We recognise that high-end craft occupations contain a creative element, but the 
view is that in the main, that these roles are more concerned with the manufacturing 
process, rather than the creative process. "

Librarians, computer programmers and marketing and sales directors are creative but craftspeople are not. Personally I find the hierarchy of "high-end craft" vs "manufacturing" poorly informed art-speak and look forward taking up the debate.

The GCA (Gross Value Added to the economy) data is a problem. The Crafts Council undertook their own research giving a GVA figure for the contemporary crafts of £220 million across the whole UK. Unfortunately the methodology used was not compatible with standard government methodology so can't be used in this context. The department of BIS commissioned research in Heritage Crafts giving a GVA of £4.4 Billion for just England.

The Heritage Crafts Association have been in consultation with our excellent contacts at BIS, DCMS and CCSkills and will be negotiating with the Creative Industries Council to hopefully win them over. In our experience adopting an adversarial position in these things rarely helps people change their minds. It is in their interest to represent a large sector the current estimate is 1,487,000 employees in the sector  the heritage craft sector mapping includes 209,000 employees so far more significant that some of the groups they have included.

This shows the importance of all the work HCA undertook to push for the mapping project, it puts skilled craftwork on the government agenda and gives us exactly the figures we need to push for crafts to be recognised and taken seriously.

The consultation closes June 14th and we hope to be able to report a positive outcome.

1 comment:

  1. Good Morning,
    My name is Victoria Woodcock and I am an HCA member living and working in the state of Minnesota in the US (I am a wood turner). I recently read about the DCMS determination that craft is somehow not creative or not creative enough to be included as a category of creative industry. This is absolute nonsense. Of course craft is creative and it always has been and I’ll point to a very prominent example here in my home state: our own state capitol building. The building is over 100 years old and is largely made out of stone, both native Minnesota stone and marble from the State of Georgia. It took 10 years to construct it and it employed hundreds of stone workers and other craftsmen in every phase of the construction. In researching the construction of the building, I and several others have found that the architect who designed it only drew a total of 7 pages of blueprints. All of the details regarding the actual cutting and laying of stone, from the foundation to the carved statues were left to the master craftsman who worked and supervised others working on the construction. The building is in excellent condition and is a living testament to the abilities and creativity of these people who understood the tools, the materials, and stone working methods and were able to construct a lasting thing of great beauty. It took and takes a vigorous imagination and a fine understanding of function to understand how to design and make something that will be used everyday by people and that is durable.

    Best to the HCA and all the craftsmen and craftswomen in the UK.

    Victoria Woodcock
    Eagan, Minnesota, USA

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