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New Role for Craft Scotland's CEO

Two years ago today I walked into Craft Scotland’s office for my first day in my new job. At my interview I was asked to present on the topic of ‘how to make Craft Scotland a viable organisation’. Looking back over the powerpoint slides now, I realise just how much we have achieved in twenty four short months. The transition from project to organisation is now complete, and Craft Scotland has proved itself to be more than viable. The potential for us – and by ‘us’ I mean the Scottish craft sector – is so huge and so completely different to anything we have achieved before.

Major change has occurred in two years. The credit crunch we were tiptoeing around in late September 2008 turned quickly into a full-blown global recession which we are now supposedly out the other side of. We await the funding cuts announcements on October 20th with apprehension.

Craft Scotland has changed beyond recognition. From a project grew an audience development agency, the first in the world dedicated to craft. The ‘broom cupboard’ office I moved into on my own two years ago quickly changed to a slightly larger attic space to accommodate our second and third members of staff. Last month the attic was replaced with a large, fit for purpose office in Leith to accommodate our team of seven and our plans for growth. Then there are the campaigns, the exhibitions, the website and our ambition for the sector. We don’t want it merely to survive. We want it to soar.

People respond differently to change. I personally dislike it immensely but realise that so long as it is never change for change’s sake it is a must for the future of craft.

A welcome change is my new role which I spoke about at our AGM last month. Whilst I have been CEO for two years, much of my time has been taken up with ‘getting things done.’ Procedures and policies have had to be put in place so that we can function as an organisation, a team (and funding for that team) had to be sought, and then there was the business of developing The C Word and Meet Your Maker. All highly essential but reaching my full potential as a leader for the craft sector and for the organisation I work for – both internationally and nationally – has had to wait its turn. When we moved into the new office I felt as though I was moving into a new role. Whilst it is highly tempting to get involved in the nuts and bolts of Rebecca’s audience development strategy, I have a new job to do.

A month into my ‘new job’ and we have received a ministerial visit with further meetings planned at parliament, our ambition to create real selling opportunities for makers in America have moved along rapidly and I have put the first steps in place for the creation of a Scottish selling event. If I were to deliver an interview presentation now it would be ‘how to make Craft Scotland into the world’s most creative organisation’, which not coincidentally is also our recently launched vision.

Unsurprisingly there is further change ahead. Some are big, some you will barely notice but will have significant and positive impacts on the work we do to support the craft sector. Over the coming year our website will change dramatically. We will be opening a membership scheme for makers and students to opt in to. We will be creating new retail opportunity and new spaces for people to buy, see and enjoy Scottish craft. We are consulting with makers more than ever before. This will not change.

I’m in the midst of re-writing our business plan. As well as the obvious benefits attached to business planning, it has been an invaluable exercise to focus my mind on the road ahead. It has been important to reflect on Craft Scotland as a project, and highlighting the achievements of the past two years at our AGM was essential. Now my sights are set on opportunity, investment and development for the craft sector and for Craft Scotland.

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