MANCHESTER — Nearly 16,000 people have now signed an online petition protesting against U.K. government plans to re-classify crafts as a “non-creative” industry.
The petition, organized by Manchester property developer and broadcaster Sian Astley, pictured, raises concerns over a consultation paper, “Classifying and Measuring the Creative Industries,” published from the from the U.K. government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport last month. The paper proposes to remove “crafts” as a “recognized” creative industry. Craft occupations, the document reads, are “concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process.”
While the DCMS says this proposal will not affect funding for crafts, members of craft occupations are concerned that without being measured, their endeavors are “less visible” than other creative activities. “The sector understandably has concerns…on the principle that ‘what doesn’t get counted, doesn’t count,” writes The Crafts Council research and policy manager Julia Bennett in an article for the Guardian earlier this week.
The Crafts Council has been inviting people from within the sector to comment on its Facebook page, with many expressing concerns against what is being proposed.
“Scary stuff, for the single-minded, unimaginative, box-ticking report writers at DCMS,” writes one commenter. “Craft forms an integral part of British heritage, and many making and craft skills are slowly dying,” says another. “It is important for the DCMS to do everything it can to encourage and support craft skills.”
Astley told BLOUIN ARTINFO UK that she had decided to set up her petition after reading about the government’s proposals on the design website Dezeen.
Astley said: “The U.K. craft industry is undergoing a grass roots revival at the moment, in both traditional and contemporary forms, and the government should be supporting, celebrating and championing small business and craftsmanship, not undermining, insulting and potentially damaging it and them. What nonsense to suggest the craft industry shouldn’t be classified as a creative one.
“For craftspeople, it feels like they are being downgraded, their work disrespected and has been called a ‘slap in the face’,” she continued. “At times of such economic hardship, the government should be working hard to support such small businesses, not ostracising, belittling and failing to even try to understand them.”
The DCMS consultation period ends on June 14.
This article has been updated since its original ARTINFO U.K. posting to reflect recent changes.