CRAFT NI Director’s Report

CRAFT NI Director’s Report 

August Craft Month

It’s great to be here on the brink of another exciting August Craft Month 2019 and thank you to all the maker and venues who submitted details of the rich and varied opportunities for this summer. With over 100 events listed, there will definitely be something for everyone from open studios, exhibitions, and opportunities for people to make and engage. Pick up a brochure at local council offices and arts centres, or to download it as a pdf please click here.

You can check out the full August Craft Month Calendar by clicking here and keep an eye as we’ll continue to update this as any new events come through. Jump in and enjoy! #augustcraft #craftni

Craft Forum

A big thank you to the 90+ makers who were able to take the time to come to Craft NI’s first craft Forum last month. It was important for staff and board members at Craft NI to be able to meet and connect with a range of people – makers, retailers - all with an interest in the craft sector. Thanks also for the thoughtful and constructive feedback during the table discussions and in the online feedback afterwards. The Craft Forum will be the starting point in Craft NI’s strategic planning each year so the feedback was important to help us prioritise the issues that will deliver the most for sector as a whole, making the most of our resources, in the time ahead.

There was a significant range of views represented, but here is a brief summary of the key issues raised:

Strategy: Feedback from the Forum will be brought into Board strategy planning and there will be more opportunities to feedback on draft plans in the autumn.

Premises: There was a welcome for the news that Craft NI is moving to new premises in Belfast city centre from which we’ll provide: exhibition, gallery, retail, admin and workshop/training space for contemporary craft in Northern Ireland. There was discussion about the impact on other craft retailers in the city, who are an important way for makers from all over Northern Ireland to reach customers in Belfast. Craft NI are committed to raising awareness of craft and growing the market as a whole in Northern Ireland and want to see all retailers benefit. We are particularly looking for opportunities to collaborate with craft retailers to promote the whole sector to larger markets in Northern Ireland and beyond – we’ll be starting with some ‘buy craft’ advertising in August.

Craft Advisory Panel and wider relationships: There was significant discussion re the establishment of a Craft Advisory Panel with some nominations received on the day. The remit of the panel is to advise Craft NI on priorities, innovation and newest developments in their disciplines. There’ll be further information on how to nominate to the panel issued in late July, so keep an eye out for a newsletter and web update on that. We’d really encourage you to think of experienced and expert makers in your discipline who could advise Craft NI.

From the feedback, it was important to those attending that we made the most of opportunities to work with DCCoI in Ireland and we agree, as well as with other Craft bodies across the UK. We are due to meet DCCoI formally as the new team in the near future and we understand the importance of the craft market on the island of Ireland as well as across the UK.

Directory: support for updating the Craft NI Directory and Craft Map as well as continuing to invest in the Craft NI website as an online hub for craft. Customers from all over the world should easily be able to find makers through the website. A directory fee was discussed with clear priorities for the investment of any future fee: an online craft shop linking straight through to makers’ own online sites or their spaces on other sales platforms; marketing campaigns and initiatives for craft buying as a whole; a craft quality mark and others - we are keen to hear more ideas for this space.

Other: Craft NI were urged to ensure we are engaging as much as possible with the next generation of emerging makers; and we were also reminded of the importance of communication with the sector - we agree! And we will get better at this now that our new staff team is in place.

For future Craft Forums, delegates wanted to hear from guest speakers, which we will prioritise now that we’ve introduced ourselves! We’ll also aim for another Forum this year, given the very positive feedback about the benefits of getting together with other makers in same and other disciplines.

With warmest regards

Katherine

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