UK Craft Mission Success

After eight international meetings, nine extraordinary site visits and one very special event, the CCF/FCMA’s educational mission to London, England was a resounding success. From February 28th to March 4th, 2019, seven leaders from the Canadian craft sector explored the London craft scene, building an arsenal of information and new networks for the future.

In partnership with our affiliate member, Craft Alliance / Alliance Métiers d’art, the CCF/FCMA organized an extensive itinerary exploring the UK Craft Council’s Collect 2019 art fair and the broader London craft scene. As Craft Alliance is the Pan-Atlantic Trade Association representing the craft sector in Atlantic Canada, their expertise in cultural exports fuelled the market research components of the program, while the CCF/FCMA’s role as a national arts service organization opened doors to increased international connections, leading to meetings not only with our British counterparts, but with representatives from Ireland, Scotland, France, China, Germany, and the Czech Republic. We were grateful for the openness with which these contacts shared their experiences and information, and look forward to continued exchange as we build new international plans.

Glass blowing in London. Photo: Maegen Black.

While the majority of our research was focused on Collect 2019, members of the Canadian delegation also met with World Craft Council representatives to discuss Canada’s place in this global network and international programs such as the WCC’s International Craft Conference in 2020 and the Craft Cities nomination process – which is open to Canadian municipalities for consideration. Discussions of the Citizens of Craft program have lead to a planned international cross-pollination in our podcast program, and information on research processes and project frameworks have been shared as examples to build from. Our visitation to the Cockpit Arts Residency site in Holborne sparked expansive conversations about incubator programs, information which will be shared with the broader CCF/FCMA Members in future reports.

Overall, the experience was extremely positive, with the groundwork laid for Canadian craft expansion in the UK. More than anything, what made this mission a success was the dedication of the delegation, consisting of CCF/FCMA Director, Maegen Black, Craft Nova Scotia Executive Director Susan Hanrahan, PEI Crafts Council Executive Director Ayelet Stewart, Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design Executive Director Lori Burke, and Sheila Hugh McKay Foundation Board Member Brigitte Clavette, as well as Craft Alliance’s Executive Director, Bernard Burton and Operations Coordinator, Greg Toole. All seven representatives covered extensive ground, investigating the feasibility and logistics of potential future projects and expanding the body of knowledge of UK based opportunities and systems in the Canadian sector.

The CCF/FCMA and Craft Alliance continue to put this work to good use, as we develop our detailed market intelligence reports. More information will be made available regarding the meetings held, information gathered, and the opportunities uncovered through these reports. If you are interested in the potential for future exchange between Canada and the UK, stay tuned, as we build our case for new Canadian craft activity in London for Craft Year 2020.

Banner, left to right: Brigitte Clavette, Maegen Black, Anne-Laure Roussille, and Romain Juilha