Crafts Council

Crafts Council
   Promoting not handicraft pastimes, but the highgrade skills, artistry and innovation of such ‘handson’ craftspersons as potters, metal workers, jewellers, bookbinders, weavers, knitters, quilters, embroiderers, stone masons, calligraphers, wood turners and furniture makers (rather than semiindustrial traditional specialized tradesmanship), the Crafts Council occupies a niche between the Arts Council on the one hand and the Design Council, with its remit to improve commercial design, on the other. The Arts and Crafts Movement had emerged as a force in British cultural life in the late nineteenth century, and voluntary efforts, both in London and in the provinces, to provide encouragement and attract official recognition through coordination in a sphere where individualism is always at a premium began before the Second World War, in the course of which some central organization developed. Progress for the Crafts Centre of Great Britain proved slow, however, grant aid was meagre, and frustration appears to have fuelled disputes over policy. Changing the name to the Crafts Council of Great Britain in 1964 was a bid for enhanced status.
   Fortunes improved with the return of the Conservative government in 1970 when the Paymaster General, Lord Eccles, set up the Crafts Advisory Committee to make recommendations for meeting the needs of ‘artistic craftsmen’ and promote ‘a nationwide interest’ in their work. In 1979 the Crafts Advisory Council became the Crafts Council. A Royal Charter was granted in 1982, with revisions in 1993 to reflect the extension of the Council’s responsibilities to Scotland. The Council fulfils its dual role of educating the public and supporting artist craftspersons by offering advice and commissions, collecting particularly fine examples of new work, mounting exhibitions, arranging lecture programmes, and publishing specialist catalogues and periodicals. Having first moved from rather unsatisfactory premises on Hay Hill (off Piccadilly) to Waterloo Place, the Craft Council’s London base is now at 44a Pentonville Road, Islington, where the public can enjoy a succession of imaginative exhibitions.
   Further reading
   Harrod, T. (1994) Factfile 3: The History of the Crafts Council, London: Crafts Council.
   CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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