Important in and of itself, a craft education isn't just about creating beautiful objects. It has a vital role to play in wider industry, helps with problem-solving (as Matthew Crawford illustrated in his best-seller The Case for Working with Your Hands), and contributes to general cognitive development.
At the Crafts Council we believe that it's absolutely vital that we not only have a strong relationship with the craft organisations of other nations but that we also make sure we're exporting the products, skills and ideas of the best of the UK's makers to new places, opening up new opportunities and showing the world quite how good we are at making things.
One idea that I believe to be crucial is the sense of craft as a dynamic, contemporary area of practice. I believe that it can still too often be perceived as something that remains rooted in the 19th century, whereas making is constantly in flux, moving with the times while retaining skill and acute knowledge of materials at its heart.
On the surface, a high-end art fair held in Dubai and a digital conference in Bristol might not seem to have very much in common. But both act as important indicators of the Craft Council's direction, suggesting where contemporary making could go in the future, as well as where objects created in the UK might be sold.
The brilliant scholar and critic Reyner Banham was best known for his treatises on architecture, where he would compare ice cream vans with mediaeval cathedrals and explain the importance of bike sheds. However, he was originally trained as an aero engineer and it was this background of actually making stuff that he drew on when in 1973 he delivered a lecture entitled Sparks from a Plastic Anvil: The Craftsman in Technology.
In 1774, the first Josiah Wedgwood wrote: 'I have often wish'd I had saved a single specimen of all the new articles I have made, and would now give 20 times the original value for such a collection. For 10 years past I have omitted doing this, because I did not begin it ten years sooner. I am now, from thinking, and talking a little more upon this subject... resolv'd to make a beginning.'
The nitty-gritty policy work that the Crafts Council does on behalf of the craft sector is not perhaps as glamorous as high profile exhibitions like the recent Power of Making at the V&A (their second most popular exhibition in the last ten years). However - it plays a vital role in how craft is perceived across government.