Craft Expertise, or ‘Supporting diversity and expertise development in the contemporary craft economy’ is an AHRC funded UKRI/RCUK Innovation Fellowship led by Dr Karen Patel of Birmingham City University, in collaboration with Crafts Council UK.
This is a two-phase project which began in March 2019, and has involved a series of research and public engagement activities which have aimed to raise awareness of inequalities in the contemporary UK craft economy. The project has highlighted the various challenges faced by women of colour in the sector including racism and microaggressions in craft spaces, the challenges presented by social media, and issues with gaining recognition as expert makers. The work has informed Crafts Council’s approach to tackling racism and inequality in the craft sector.
Phase one ran from March 2019-June 2021. Activities included:
- Interviews with makers of colour from around the UK
- A conference on diversity in craft held in Birmingham in December 2019
- The Maker Stories podcast series
- An online collaborative ‘STEAM Sprint’ workshop series which aimed to generate ideas for addressing inequalities in craft.
The final report from Phase one is now available to view here. It includes a summary of findings from the research, and recommendations for craft organisations and policy makers to address issues of inequality in craft and foster a more inclusive sector.
Phase two commenced in July 2021 and will end in June 2023. Activities in the second phase will include:
- Interviews with makers involved in craft social enterprise
- Research with craft organisations in Australia
- A toolkit for makers and craft organisations
- A maker event at STEAMhouse in Birmingham
- An audio documentary series highlighting the experiences of makers of colour
For any queries relating to the project feel free to email me at karen.patel[at]bcu.ac.uk.