Thursday, 30 May 2013

Update on the DCMS consultation on creative industries including craft.

Today HCA met with head of creative Economy at DCMS and the statistician responsible for ensuring that creative businesses are represented within the government estimates of economic output. There has been understandable concern expressed because of the proposal to not use crafts as a subheading within the new classifications. What folk may not realise is that whilst craft has been there in the past the column alongside for economic output has read zero because the stats have not been available. This is obviously not ideal and DCMS are trying to find ways to dig out useable stats on craftspeople from the officially recorded SOC codes (standard occupational code) which are set by the ONS (office for national statistics) in line with international standards.
Creative Industries GVA  2008 - 2009
Gross Value Added (GVA)* (£million)
Proportion of total UK GVA (%)
Gross Value Added (GVA)* (£million)
Proportion of total UK GVA (%)
1. Advertising
2. Architecture
3. Art & Antiques
4. Crafts

5. Design
6. Designer Fashion
7. Film, Video & Photography
9 & 10. Music & Visual and Performing Arts
11. Publishing
8 & 12. Software & Electronic Publishing
8 & 12. Digital & Entertainment Media
13. TV & Radio
Total GVA for Creative Industries
Total GVA for all UK Industries1


What has to be done is to trawl through all the soc codes and then the subheadings which give typical job descriptions within that soc code and then we have to decide whether enough  of the jobs within that soc code are "creative" if they are that soc code can be counted as a creative industry....hurrah. Now when it gets down to the detail it is a subjective decision on each job title, is it creative or not? All we have to go on is a two or three word job title which in itself could cover a multitude of different working practices. To bring as much objectivity to the proces as possible DCMS are using a methodology developed by Nesta  which gives 5 criteria to judge against to help determine if a job is creative. Our concern however is that the people making those subjective decisions are a long way away from workshop practice and may not realise the degree of creative decision making that goes on even in apparently repetitive production work. We had a good discussion on the subject, is it possible for instance  to compare the band at a west end show performing the same score night after night to the workforce at a Northampton shoe factory responding to variable raw materials to make the same design of shoe? The DCMS officials were fully engaged and we hope to work with them looking again at various SOC codes to ensure that as many creative craftspeople as possible a represented within the government data.  We are also collating various pieces of critical writing highlighting the creativity within craft production. prof Trevor Marchand of SOAS wrote us an excellent piece highlighting the different but equal creativity of architect, mason and carpenter.

In an ideal world we would revisit the SOC codes and make them better descriptions of the jobs we do, that has been done for other sectors with proactive lead bodies but that can not be done until the next review in 2017, we will be ready!

So is there anything that others in the craft world can do to help? if you have references for good academic writing discussing creativity in craft practice send us a link. If you have the time to look at the list of SOC codes and see where your business would fit and then write a short critique using the 5 Nesta guidelines to explain how your business is creative that would help us to put your particular SOC code forward for inclusion in the creative industries list. If that sounds like too much hassle then just be thankful that HCA volunteer trustees are wading through this list on your behalf and if you would like to support us and keep in touch with our other work for the crafts sign up as a member here.

Although craft is difficult to identify separately, DCMS are looking to  find ways to include the word craft in the creative industries categories  for folk that feel that is important but we all feel the most important thing is to ensure that we can find ways of measuring the sector and representing it within government statistics. This was the reasoning behind HCA working closely with BIS last year on the mapping heritage craft   project. That put craft firmly in the picture within BIS and showed remarkable figures of 209,000 people employed (78% self employed) and a turnover of £10.8 billion. Hopefully the current engagement will put craft equally in the picture at DCMS. We are an important and large creative sector which has unusual potential for growth in the current economic climate more people need to know about what we do.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

craft is not creative according to DCMS

The DCMS are currently proposing dropping craft from their list of creative industries. "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."
HCA have been working hard on this issue, and we are thankfully very good at this sort of advocacy work. Last Thursday we met with Gwyn Owens head of creative economy at DCMS and our President HRH The Prince of Wales also talked with him. Gwyn assures us that "
it is not, and has never been, our intention to remove crafts from our definition of the creative industries – the current consultation is solely around how we might improve current estimates on measuring the value of the creative industries". We will be meeting with Gwyn and his team at DCMS shortly and are confident we can find a positive way forward. This is the consultation document to which anyone can respond.

The criteria for judging creativity is based on this document from NESTA and there are 5 key questions to answer. Ask yourself these questions about your craft, for most crafts I know I could answer yes for 1-4 and I feel 5 is a rather condescending failure of understanding what happens when a designer hands over to the people that have to make their vision into reality.

1. Novel process - Does the role most commonly solve a problem or achieve a goal, even one that has been established by others, in novel ways? Even if a well-defined process exists which can realise a solution, is creativity exhibited at many stages of that process?

2. Mechanisation resistant - The very fact that the defining feature of the creative industries is their use of a specialised labour force shows that the creative labour force clearly contributes something for which there is no mechanical substitute.

3. Non-repetitiveness or non-uniform function - Does the transformation which the occupation effects likely vary each time it is created because of the interplay of factors, skills, creative impulse and learning?

4. Creative contribution to the value chain - Is the outcome of the occupation novel or creative irrespective of the context in which it is produced; one such context being the industry (and its standard classification) of the organisational unit that hosts or employs the role? For example, a musician working on a cruise ship (a transport
industry) is still creative while a printer working within a bank is probably operating printing technology and hence would be considered mechanistic and not creative.

5. Interpretation, not mere transformation - does the role do more than merely 'shift' 
the service or artefacts form or place or time? For instance, a draughtsperson/CAD technician takes an architect's series of 2D drawings and renders them into a 3D model of the building. While great skill and a degree of creative judgement are involved, arguably the bulk of the novel output is generated by the architect and not by the draughtsperson.

As an easier way of expressing your feelings there are several e petitions doing the rounds on this subject and it would be good if we all signed the same one. HCA have decided to support this one rather than create another, although it does use the Crafts Council figures, the numbers working in Heritage Craft (209,000) and the contribution to the economy (£4.4bn GVA) are much higher.

Update 13th May HCA met with Matt Hancock Skills Minister today and raised this issue amongst others. The Department of Business Inovation and Skills have been working hard to raise the status of craft only last week presenting the craft skills awards and the minister has promised to follow up with DCMS. The more people who question this consultation document the better.

Update 14th May DCMS issue clarification of their position "We have been in discussions about our proposals with partners across the creative industries for some time, co-ordinated by a working group1
including Arts Council England and the Crafts Council.
The consultation is not intended to pass judgment on which industries are creative 
and which are not. What can be measured in the DCMS Creative Industries Economic 
Estimates should not be confused with what are recognised as Creative Industries by 
DCMS. DCMS clearly sees craft as a creative industry, and we are not intending to reclassify craft as non-creative." full statement here 

Finally does it matter? Does it make any difference to working craftspeople if DCMS include craft as a category when measuring the creative industries? HCA think it does for two reasons, firstly whilst we have done great work with the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to raise the status of craft the wording of these two documents feels to devalue the creativity that is inherent in craft practice. Second there are other organisations that use DCMS categories to allocate funding such as the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

Another update HCA's main focus has been to question the Nesta methodology and the way in which it is used to determine which sic and soc codes are deemed creative or not. Geoff Mulgan who heads Nesta made a blog post on the issue here

Want to be on Great British Sewing Bee series 2?

The Great British Sewing Bee

| BBC Two
Great British Sewing Bee contestants
Are you serious about sewing?
Is your home full of your own creations?
Do people admire your handmade clothes?
We're looking for men and women who love sewing to take part in the second series of this popular TV series.
From skirts to shirts, blinds to bags; if you're at home behind a sewing machine and a dab hand with a needle and thread, we'd love to hear from you.
The Great British Sewing Bee is produced for the BBC by Love Productions.

To apply

Age limit: Applicants must be 18 years of age and over (by 1 June 2013).
You must be resident of the UK (incl. Isle of Man and Channel Islands).
You must not have any sewing NVQ or other qualifications unless acquired over 10 years ago.
You cannot have ever worked full-time as a dressmaker, sample machinist, pattern cutter, tailor or seamstress.
Your main source of income must not derive from your sewing in a professional environment.
You must not be or be closely related to a member of the BBC or Love Productions staff or anyone connected with the programme.
You cannot have been convicted of any serious crime. Details of convictions should be listed on the application form. If you are chosen to participate in the programme, you agree to authorise Love Productions to conduct background checks in order to verify any of the information you have supplied and you agree to provide them with any assistance or further information necessary to do this.
Application form: Download and complete the The Great British Sewing Bee application form (Word, 84KB).
The Great British Sewing Bee
Love Productions
43 Eagle Street
No closing date
You must be able to commit to all the filming days which are currently expected to be during Autumn/Winter 2013/2014.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Great film about what craft means

This 10 minute film was made to celebrate the craft skills awards, it includes film from the finalists workshops with their insights into why they do what they do and what it means to work in craft. The awards judges also add their thoughts, I think all together it gives a good overview of what it means to work in craft. I love the comment from Cowley's "There are more astronauts walking about that parchment makers."

HRH The Prince fo Wales speech on Craft

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales’s speech at the Craft Skills Awards ceremony

Published on 2nd May 2013

It really does give me enormous pleasure to join you here today at this inaugural Craft Skills Awards ceremony.  As you may know, these Awards came about following discussions I had with John Hayes, the then Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, who was as keen as I was to ensure we preserve, encourage and nurture the special skills of the craft sector. So I really am so pleased, therefore, that Matthew Hancock, who has taken on this ministerial portfolio, has been so supportive of these Awards.
I have long done what little I can over the years to champion the craft sector, both through my own charities and through my patronage of other organizations. I have a particular interest in heritage craft, and have sought through my own charitable work - particularly, through The Prince’s Trust -  to help preserve traditional crafts and to encourage young people to pursue them as a livelihood and a vocation - in part because of course the pursuit of a craft is a marvellous way for somebody to realize their true potential as a human being. Through the Prince’s Trust we have been able to support a remarkable number of people setting up their own enterprises, in all sorts of different fields. 
Crafts can bring one closer to Nature: they are a part of the human story of transmission of living tradition and cultural identity from one generation to another. My own charities have therefore integrated the teaching and practice of the crafts throughout their work. For example, my Foundation for Building Community both  provides apprenticeships in traditonal building crafts for masons, carpenters, thatchers, bricklayers, stained glass artists and blacksmiths, among other disciplines, and teaches craft principles to architects, planners and adult learners. 
My School of Traditional Arts specializes in teaching, researching and promoting the practice and theory of the arts and crafts of the world's great traditions.   My Drawing School, as well, has a particularly important part to play in teaching the basics of drawing - a fundamental skill for many crafts people at the end of the day. 
These Craft Skills Awards celebrate all that is so special about the craft sector.  Today, the sector is a force to be reckoned with, and properly recognized, in the U.K. economy – after all, believe it or not, it ranks alongside the petrochemical industry in size and scale – and contributes a massive £4.4 billion a year in gross value from the heritage sector alone.
However, one of the great problems facing this sector is that the vast majority – 78 per cent in heritage crafts and 88 per cent in contemporary crafts – are self-employed and therefore struggle to devote the necessary time to pass on these crucially important and invariably eco-efficient, “sustainable” skills to the next generation.  We simply must ensure that these often historic and unique skills are not allowed to die out and become relegated to history.  
The recent mapping of the sector shows that there is a serious problem, with 77 per cent of people who work in traditional heritage crafts not being able to pass on their skills due to lack of funding.  The enhanced focus on apprenticeship helps in this regard, for it gives young people with an appetite for non-academic careers a clear direction of travel.  Thus I can only pray that these awards will serve to increase the awareness and desirability of a path leading into craft as a career.
I warmly congratulate all of today’s winners and indeed runners up and am most grateful to you all for the myriad ways in which I know you support the craft sector.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

HRH The Prince of Wales presents Craft Skills Awards

Today HCA committee are mostly in London for the presentation of the Craft Skills Awards. Copied below are details from the press release. We will add more details when we are back home. HCA have been heavily involved with these awards since first discussing the idea with Skills Minister John Hayes over 2 years ago so it is great to see them finally here. HVA vice chair Patricia Lovett was on the awards steering group and shortlisting committee, HCA chair Robin Wood was one of the final judges. One of HCAs key aims is to increase recognition of the skill involved in traditional crafts and we hope these awards are a great step in that direction.

Craft Skills Awards winners announced as UK craft industry tops £4.4bn
His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, awarded prizes today (2 May 2013) to a range of British craftspeople for their contribution to the UK crafts industry.
The inaugural Craft Skills Awards 2013 were set up by Creative & Cultural Skills and partners, to reward and encourage best practice in passing on craft skills.

Entries were received from companies and institutions, teachers, tutors, workshop leaders, masters and individuals and categories include ‘Encouraging Craft Skills in the Workplace’, ‘Encouraging Craft Skills in an Educational Setting’, ‘Encouraging Craft Skills in an Informal Setting’ and ‘Engaging New and Diverse Audiences in Craft Skills’.

During the ceremony it was revealed that the UK crafts sector now contributes £4.4bn (GVA) to the economy, making it equal in size to the British petrochemical industry. However, eighty percent of craftspeople admit they don’t pass on their skills and some skills, such as parchment making, are at risk of extinction in the UK. With 25,000 new jobs anticipated in crafts between now and 2022, it is vital that the best practice shown by the award winners is maintained and developed.

Also announced were the Craft Skills Champions of 2013 which were presented to two individuals, Calligrapher Ewan Clayton and Basket Maker Mary Butcher. These champions were selected by the judging panel for their long-standing work in developing others’ craft skills. This special award category was not made public prior to the ceremony.

Award winners received their prizes from HRH, The Prince of Wales and the ceremony was attended by the awards ambassadors and judges, including Sir Christopher Frayling (HCA Patron).

Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock MP said:
"Britain leads the world in many creative industries and skills. The crafts are something we can be proud of and with its contribution to the UK economy it is important to keep these skills alive, generating employment. These awards acknowledge that contribution and reward innovation and I am pleased to see craftspeople recognised for taking the time to pass on these skills and ensure that we continue to increase the importance of this sector."

The awards in full were

Craft Skills Awards 2013 Winners 
Encouraging Craft Skills in the Workplace
Winner: Alan Staley (Boatbuilder), Alan Staley Boatbuilders, Kent
Highly Commended: Sam Goates (Weaver), We Are One Creative, Scotland Lee Mapley (Parchment and Vellum Maker), William Cowley Parchment Works, Buckinghamshire
Encouraging Craft Skills in an Educational Setting
Winner: Bishopsland Trust, Oliver and Pope Makower (Jewellers), Berkshire
Highly Commended: Royal School of Needlework (Embroidery), London Firing Up, Anthony Quinn (Ceramicist), UK
Engaging New and Diverse Audiences in Craft Skills
Winner: Clayground Collective Ltd, Duncan Hooson and Julia Rowntree (Ceramicists), London
Highly Commended: Impact Arts Projects Ltd, Graeme Douglas (Various), Scotland
Craftspace, Shelanu: Women’s Craft Collective, Emma Daker (Jewellery), Birmingham
Encouraging Craft Skills in Informal Settings
Winner: Wendy Shorter (Upholstery), Wendy Shorter Interiors Ltd, Hertfordshire
Highly Commended: Tom Trimmins, Tom Trimmins Woodwork, London Tannaghmore Blacksmiths, Northern Ireland
Judges’ Spotlight Award
Winner: Autonomatic, Falmouth University, Katie Bunnell (Digital Crafts), Falmouth
Craft Champion
Winners: Mary Butcher (Basketry), Canterbury 
Ewan Clayton (Calligraphy and Lettering), Brighton

A while ago we were in corespondence with one of the winners Alan Staley Boatbuilders see their website here 
We have been incredibly impressed with the work Alan does taking on school leavers and training them for a full 5 years, there are very few places where you can do this full time served apprenticeship in any traditional craft now and we wondered how he managed to fund it. Copied below is Alans response.

"As far as funding is concerned, there never has been any!  When I started my apprenticeship in 1961, the rate of pay for a new apprentice was - for one weeks work the apprentice was paid, what the skilled man received for one days work, and the apprentices's money went up each year until at the end of their apprenticeship, they were earning just a little less than the skilled man.   This always did work well and I have done the same until the introduction of the minimum wage.
We do receive enquiries from people in their 30s - 40s regarding training, but the minimum wage makes this impossible."

"The trainees when they leave us seem to have no problem obtaining work with other yards.   I have had phone calls from yards who have had one of our trainees that have subsequently moved on again, asking if we have another one they can have.
I suppose I could be accused of being obsessed with wooden boats, but I do think that perhaps to some extent rubs off on people who work with me. There have been those that have left after a short time realising that this is not the job for them, whilst those who stay the course become equally obsessed and are then determined to make a success of their future in wooden boat work."

It is great that Alan manages to pass his skills on and we hope he inspires others. We are aware that for many it is currently not financially viable and we are keen to ensure the conditions exist where people can pass on their skills without it being to the detriment of their livelihood.