The UK Govt think Craft isn’t Creative. Are they having a laugh?

2013-05-08_0001I’d say that the images above, chosen entirely at random from craft based web-sites, show some fairly creative work, wouldn’t you say? Beautiful things which have been, um, created. That makes them…. creative. Whether contemporary or traditional craft floats your boat, most people would agree that there is more than a little creativity going on.

Well, not according to the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport who are currently proposing that craft no longer be considered part of the creative industries, as part of the 30 April proposed changes set out in Classifying and Measuring the Creative Industries consultation paper.

Hmmm. So IT Business Analysts, Sales Directors and Town Planning Technicians (to name but a few) are creative, but people who work with wood, clay, fabric, ceramics, glass, precious metals, people who make and sell beautifully crafted objects, artwork and furniture, people who employ skills born of centuries of tradition aren’t creative. Are they insane?

The consultation document states that: craft occupations are largely “concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process.” Words fail me. Clearly words written by pen pushers who have never created anything in their LIVES. Apart from daft documents of course.

So what does it mean? Actually mean? No-one really knows but here’s what it could mean:

  • Crafts people will become ‘invisible’ in assessing data and let’s face it, what isn’t seen often isn’t counted and isn’t viewed as important.
  • To create funding and education you need figures. There’s a fear that lumping in craft with manufacturing means essential data and figures are uncountable. In already tough times, this could mean future funding doesn’t get allocated.
  • The fear that the subsequent lack of the title ‘creative’ could mean less importance to craft teaching in schools and colleges. We’ve already lost so much hands on teaching in the UK and this reclassification could lead to more.
  • Many small businesses – the Crafts Council report, Craft in an Age of Change (2012) found that of 23,000 contemporary craft businesses in the UK, 88% are sole-traders, many of whom fall below the VAT threshold – will no longer have their views, needs and contributions assessed and measured as the Government thinks it’s just too difficult,. Notwithstanding the fact that the same report also shows a sector that has an estimated income of £457m (larger than music downloads and only slightly smaller than West End theatres) with a GVA of £220m.
  • It’s simply nonsensical and ridiculous to say that craftsmen and women are not creatives, the whole declassification doesn’t make any actual sense, save making the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s job easier. Instead of supporting and showcasing the immense talent within the UK and it’s creative craft industry, it’s effectively giving them a slap in the face. To many people it appears that this declassification is a very personal attack on what they value most, their creativity.

With the phenomenal revival of heritage and contemporary craft going on all around us, how can the Government be so out of touch. Oh yes, that’s right I forgot, they’re the Government.

Well, you can’t just do*nothing* can you, especially if you’re a proper busybody….. so please sign the on-line e-petition now live on the HMGovt site and get involved, get retweeting, get Facebooking and support the craft industry defend it’s corner against this preposterous attack on the very definition of creativity: E-PETITION HERE

Further reading:

I first read about the issue last week in an excellent and now updated Dezeen article: http://www.dezeen.com/2013/05/01/disbelief-over-plans-to-remove-crafts-from-uk-creative-industries/

Here is the Craft Council’s statement on the subject: http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/about-us/press-room/view/2013/dcms-classification-review?from=/about-us/press-room/

And another excellent piece in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2013/may/07/crafts-creative-industries-dcms

5 thoughts on “The UK Govt think Craft isn’t Creative. Are they having a laugh?

  1. Hi Sian – I have been looking at your epetition – willing to sign but note that your closing date is 08/08/13 but the Consultation period ends in June 2013 (sorry lost page for exact date!) Will your epetition be used as part of the consultation??

    • Hi Chris

      That was the minimum time it allowed but as far as I’m aware the fact that the e-petition is on-going on the 14 June (end date for consultation) does not undermine or negate the amount of people who will have signed by that date. So the answer is yes, it still should be recognised as part of the consultation process as it is a recognised petition on the HMGov web-site. Do sign! 🙂

      Sian

  2. Thanks Sian for devising the e petition, which I have signed and reshared on Facebook. As a potter working in rural Gloucestershire I would like for the Government to attempt to recognise all the training I did at the Royal Forest of Dean College, the very place that later closed all its art departments to concentrate on CAD, then went broke. Sad for the present youth and future generations. I do as mentoring as I can for students who wish to take up my discipline – Macrocrystalline Glazed thrown work, and it is desperately upsetting to see the poor levels of training in basis skills that they are receiving in many cases – especially those at the graduation level. Sigh. Hope the petition is very successful. I’ve also written to the Crafts Council in support of their appeal.

  3. I have signed the petition and posted it on my facebook wall too. I was at uni doing a contemporary craft degree and am completely confused how the government can think that craft is just about manufacture. If I don’t CREATE a design I have nothing to craft. Stupid pencil pushing money grabbing fools! x

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