A year and two weeks in the life of Craft Scotland

Two weeks ago, the Craft Scotland team and Board met with around fifty people working in the craft sector at our 2010 Annual General Meeting.

I use the word 'annual' loosely on this occasion, as it has been twenty months since our last AGM. This was due to a number of essential internal changes we have had to make to function fully as an organisation, including moving our financial year-end to March to correspond with most other organisations (including our funder Creative Scotland). While it was legal and acceptable to have such a long gap between AGM’s, it was not something we will repeat again. I relish any opportunity to inform the sector on what we are doing to unite, inspire and champion Scottish craft, and the AGM provides a great platform to hear from people who are working in the sector.

Louise Butler, Craft Scotland Acting Co-Chair, opened the meeting by reviewing our previous agenda and matters of business, including the introduction of our four newly appointed board members – Ginnie Atkinson, Caroline Notman, Gary Smith and Jacquie Edwards. She also offered a hugely heartfelt thank you to Steve Richard and Phillipa Aitken, who have reached the end of their terms as Chair and Vice-Chair respectively. Both Steve and Phillipa have been involved in Craft Scotland since its creation as a project, and their passion and enthusiasm for the organisation will be missed.

After Louise, I opened my presentation with a two minute film showcasing an eventful year in the life of Craft Scotland (which you can watch below). The past twelve months have been spectacular for Craft Scotland, and included highlights such as The C Word and Meet Your Maker campaigns, a new team, and a new office.

The C Word campaign set out to deliver a message to the public, but instead has captured the imaginations of the international craft sector - an unexpected but enthusiastically received alternative audience. With The C Word, we are now working on opportunities for selling Scottish craft internationally, exhibiting new work in Scotland and developing closer relationships with the media. Meet Your Maker achieved two successful exhibitions in Edinburgh and Helmsdale, and there are future events and promotional opportunities for makers and galleries to come. Since the last AGM the team has grown from two to seven, and although four of these positions are not permanent the increase in resource is essential if we are to create more opportunity for the public to interact, see, buy, commission and appreciate Scottish craft.

After reviewing the last year, we looked ahead with the launch of our new philosophy and the introduction of our audience development plan by one of our newest recruits, Rebecca Davis.

After a short break Lisa Bayne, CEO of Artful Home and The Guild, delivered an inspiring presentation on online retail and marketing of craft. After seeing Lisa speak at an event last year I knew her talk would be informative, thought-provoking and different to other online retailers. Artful Home is similar to craftscotland in that it does things differently, not for the sake of it but because Lisa sees a real need to position craft as relevant to people living in the 21st century. Her grasp for finding new and often simple ways to promote the uniqueness of craft was hugely exciting. This was true not only for marketing geeks like me, but makers, researchers and lecturers have said they found it equally inspiring - Lisa had barely stepped away from the microphone before receiving a request to become a maker's mentor!

Our AGM speeches will be online soon, but until then you can take a look at our short film ‘Craft Scotland – A Year in the Life.’

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