Craft’s Future: Highlights from the 2024 Symposium

Over the past month, we were overjoyed to host the online 2024 Craft Symposium, “Craft’s Future: CCF/FCMA National Symposium on Transformation and Innovation.” From January 12th to February 2nd, the 2024 Craft Symposium brought over 80 attendees together to discuss new ideas, strengthen community bonds, and celebrate Canadian craft successes.

The symposium comprised a three-hour gathering, followed by a series of focused peer-to-peer sessions for Craft Council and affiliate organization staff. Read on for a summary of these events… 

Symposium Snapshot: Building Bonds and Fostering Ideas

On January 12th, CCF/FCMA members and affiliates met virtually to discuss the future of the craft sector in Canada. It was a pleasure to see so many familiar faces in attendance, alongside new attendees from the general public whom we welcomed to join the discussion.

The event opened with a touching celebration of Robert Jekyll’s life, and we are profoundly grateful to the colleagues who shared about Robert’s outstanding work as a stained glass artist, his tireless advocacy for fine craft, and, above all, his remarkable spirit. Learn more about Robert Jekyll’s legacy here

Honouring Excellence: 2023 Robert Jekyll Award 

Continuing the celebration of Robert Jekyll, we proudly announced Gilles Latour as the 2023 Robert Jekyll Award for Leadership in Craft Laureate. Gilles, nominated by Craft Ontario, has played a key role in shaping the Canadian craft landscape for over 30 years. From his early days on the Craft Ontario Membership Committee to presiding over the boards of Craft Ontario and Canadian Society of Decorative Arts/Cercle canadien des arts decoratifs (CSDA/CCAD), Gilles has dedicated his time and passion to advancing craft across the country. His unwavering commitment and leadership in support of craft have left an indelible mark on the community. Discover more about his inspiring contributions here

Nationwide Insights: Cross-Country Check-in 

Representatives of Regional Craft Councils and affiliate organizations shared impactful updates from 2023 and insights into upcoming projects. It is always a highlight to hear about the endeavours of our members nationwide. Some exciting updates included…

  • PEI Craft Council organized an exhibition in the wake of Hurricane Fiona, “Destruction Recrafted: Hurricane Fiona Up Close and Personal.”
  • The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador is actively working towards “Made in Canada: Sustainable Fibre Arts Conference 2024” (  
  • Le Conseil des métiers d’art du Québec has collaborated with CEGEPs to develop educational programs focused on conserving heritage buildings across Quebec.
  • Craft Ontario hosted the “2023 Canadian Student Silversmithing Exhibition,” showcasing emerging silversmiths. 
  • The Manitoba Craft Council continued its partnership with Ikea, resulting in a Scandinavian-style market featuring the work of 40 artists. 
  • The Saskatchewan Craft Council collaborated with the Gabriel Dumont Institute on an exhibition of Métis ribbon skirts titled “Gishchi-iteeyihteenaanee-kishkamaahk: We Wear Them with Pride.” 
  • The Alberta Craft Council’s Alberta Craft Gallery + Shop saw increased community engagement following the success of their mural project.
  • NWT Arts partnered with the Alberta Craft Council to showcase and sell the work of NWT craft artists at the Alberta Craft Gallery + Shop.

And much more! We eagerly anticipate the unfolding of additional projects throughout this year.

Keynote Lecture: Kyle Empringham 

The Symposium closed with a keynote lecture by Kyle Empringham, Co-Founder & Director of Finance and Fundraising at Starfish Canada. Kyle delivered a compelling keynote packed with insights gleaned from experience on diversifying funds. His discussion of Trust-Based Philanthropy (TBP), digital fundraising, and crowdfunding offered valuable perspectives for Craft Councils and related non-profit organizations. We appreciate Kyle for contributing to our community and sharing his expertise! 

Peer-to-Peer Sessions 

As an extension of the symposium, we hosted three fireside conversations for smaller groups. These sessions aimed to connect Craft Council and affiliate organization staff around focused topics and to facilitate in-depth discussions. We are pleased to have started the new year with these conversations and to welcome new members to our community. 

Peer-to-Peer Sessions: Craft Retail 

On January 19th, CCF/FCMA members working in retail discussed challenges and successes in craft sales, covering topics such as COVID recovery, technological hurdles, social media usage, collaborations, renovations, murals, and volunteer engagement. This conversation highlighted shared retail-related challenges across organizations. We are excited to address such challenges and strengthen connections between member organizations with the formation of the Craft Retail Working Group. 

Peer-to-Peer Sessions: Communications 

On January 26th, Craft Council and affiliate organization staff who work in communications addressed obstacles and opportunities in the craft industry, sharing experiences and strategies. This session expanded our discussion of communications beyond the CCF/FCMA Communications Committee. The participants discussed their efforts to promote craft through diverse media, including print magazines, digital newsletters, social media, and features in provincial publications. Looking ahead, discussions also included ideas for national craft campaigns.

Peer-to-Peer Sessions: Board Governance

Finally, on February 2nd, board members convened to exchange insights on Craft Council governance. Discussions revolved around strategic planning, craft advocacy, fostering relationships with artists, and enhancing membership engagement. A significant portion of the conversation was dedicated to tackling challenges encountered by Craft Councils amidst a lack of core funding. Board members emphasized the necessity of collective advocacy efforts to secure more sustainable funding for the Councils and discussed organizing a national, craft-focused advocacy day.

Throughout these virtual gatherings, our conversations underscored the significance of connecting with peers nationwide, gaining insights from each other’s challenges, and celebrating our victories together. The future of craft is undeniably collaborative!