New Craft Sector Review

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has released its report, a long-overdue study surveying the state of emerging Craft practices in the province (the last sector study was conducted in 1995).

Written by Jen Anisef (founder of Toronto Craft Alert, co-founder of City of Craft, partner in goodEGG industries, and powerhouse craft advocate), the report explores five facets of new Craft practices to find gaps in OAC programming and support, and to understand where the future of Craft is heading. Examined within the report are: design-oriented Craft practices, use of digital technologies in Craft, creative collaboration, the DIY/ alt-craft movement, as well as traditional Craft methods.

The report also covers some of the vernacular, environmental, and ethical issues, as well as tensions associated with traditional and new Craft practices. It explores the places where new craft practices are blazing trails, such as embracing small-scale industry to aid production, developing new marketing language, political activism, devising new financially sustainable business models, and creating strong creative communities.

The study is organized into three categories: a literature review (consisting of a synthesis of articles and essays, studies, exhibition catalogues, blogs, online forums and panel discussions, as literature on new artist issues and critical reviews are often difficult to locate), interviews (a blend of fifteen panel discussions by Canadian and international proponents of Craft), and key observations and recommendations (recommending ways in which the OAC can support and engage the new wave of makers and stay abreast of the current trends).

The report is 38 pages long, not including five pages of references and resources. It is a worthy read and the information within is invaluable to craft practitioners in all stages of their careers. Jen Anisef parsed vast quantities of information into a comprehensive and thought-provoking review of the status and future of craft and makers of all stripes, applicable to makers nation-wide.