On Tuesday 29th June 2021 project lead Karen Patel presented the findings and recommendations from Phase 1 of the Craft Expertise project at the event Making Changes in Craft. The final report, available to download here, is the culmination of two years of research with makers from around the UK. The aim of the first phase of the project was to get a sense of the experiences of ethnically diverse women makers in the UK craft sector. The research included interviews with makers and observations at various craft spaces, and it reveals the various challenges experienced in the sector. The key themes from the research are:
- Experiences of racism and microaggressions in craft spaces such as studios, fairs and in dealing with customers and suppliers
- The craft expertise of the makers being questioned, many felt this was due to their ethnicity, gender and in some cases, class
- Challenges in craft education including a white, Eurocentric curriculum, and students and teachers of colour being made to feel like they don’t belong in further and higher education spaces
In collaboration with Crafts Council and via online workshops with makers facilitated by STEAMHouse in Birmingham, a set of recommendations were devised for craft organisations, policy makers and other organisations in the craft ecology to make craft more inclusive. The recommendations are:
1. Reframe the narrative to tackle the way histories and stories about craft aredominated by a Eurocentric perspective
2. Establish industry codes of conduct to change the culture of racism and microaggressions in craft organisations, craft fairs, markets and galleries, retailers, guilds and creative industries and arts organisations
3. Improve our evidence base to ensure data about the crafts sector accurately represents the breadth of makers and build a detailed picture of key challenges to find potential solutions and networks that could help
4. Embed and support craft in education to address inequalities in staffing, in support to students from ethnically diverse backgrounds and in opportunities and careers education and advice to pursue craft courses at all levels of education
5. Enhance financial support for makers toprioritise positive change in the sector, revisit funding criteria and ensure panels for funding decisions are ethnically diverse, application processes and language.
The second phase of the project, a result of successful follow on funding from the UKRI/RCUK Innovation Fellowships scheme, commenced on 1st July. It will allow the project lead and Crafts Council UK to continue this work, and expand its impact and reach. The second phase will focus on alternative pathways into craft, and will include international collaboration and an audio documentary series.