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Opportunities for Heritage Crafts

15 July 2013

Four charities are working together to celebrate and support the best of British craftsmanship with the new heritage crafts awards.

Endorsing the awards the Prince of Wales said “As President of the Heritage Crafts Association, I am delighted to endorse this new awards scheme which supports and rewards excellence in the heritage craft sector.

Crafts are such a vital part of our British heritage and I have always been passionately concerned to promote the best aspects of our country’s traditions ? and, equally importantly, to enable these highly specialised skills to be transferred from one generation to the next.

These new awards for heritage craft celebrate excellence across the sector in a variety of ways. They reward those who give so much by volunteering to support the many different crafts, those who pass on their skills, those who wish to improve their craft skills and those who continue to produce great British craft.

I hope you all have a wonderful evening and I send every possible good wish for the future of these awards.”

The awards will be launched on the 4th of July at “The New Craftsmen” in Mayfair by TV presenter Paul Martin and presented in March at the Heritage Crafts Association’s conference at the V&A in March 2014.

Last October the major government-funded research paper “Mapping Heritage Crafts” showed that the heritage crafts sector contributes £4.4 billion GVA to the economy and strong demand for quality British craftsmanship gives predicted growth of 12% by 2022. The research also showed, however, that this is an ageing skilled workforce with a lack of entry routes to the sector. The new awards then will recognise the best of traditional craftsmanship and also offer financial help with the passing on of skills for the next generation.

The awards have been coordinated by the Heritage Crafts Association and individual awards are sponsored by the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies, the Marsh Christian Trust and the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust.

The Heritage Crafts Awards are to celebrate and highlight the traditional living crafts made in the UK that contribute to our national heritage. Such crafts include weaving, wood turning, basket making, furniture making and upholstery, shoe making, metal, stone and clay crafts, textile crafts such as embroidery, knitting and lace making, the lettering crafts, the Sheffield cutlery trades, boat building and similar other crafts where there is a significant degree of hand skill at the point of manufacture.

This is the first time that there has been such a suite of awards specifically for heritage crafts. Together, over £26,000 is on offer.

The Heritage Crafts Association, the Marsh Christian Trust, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) and the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies (NADFAS) are delighted to be working in partnership for the first time to offer six awards. Three of the awards honour individuals – Maker of the Year, Trainer of the Year, and Volunteer of the year.

The Made in Britain Award – honours a business in the UK which is flying the flag of British craft and making a success of it.

One of HCA’s key aims is to ensure that heritage crafts skills of the highest standard are passed from one generation to the next. Therefore two of the awards are grants which offer help for the training of new entrants to craft employment, as there is currently little support in this area for craftspeople. HCA is well aware that apprenticeships are not the only route to learn a craft skill and other training routes are included.

Robin Wood, Chair of the Heritage Crafts Association says:

“Britain has a rich heritage of traditional crafts from shoemaking to blacksmithing. However, today, in many instances the specific craft skills and techniques required to produce these hand made items are known by only a few, in some cases only one. As craftspeople become older and retire from their work, there is no-one coming into the trade. One of the key concerns of the Heritage Crafts Association is the lack of support for what we call ‘skills transfer’ – the passing on of skills from one generation to the next. We are delighted that our generous sponsors are helping us to celebrate British Craftsmanship and help with the passing on of skills.”

Find out more on the HCA website:

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