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.
In many respects Chennai was an apposite spot to hold the World Crafts Council's International Summit. A city historically rich in making, it's also at the heart of India's burgeoning new economy, being the nation's second largest exporter of software, information technology and information-technology-enabled services.
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.
You only have to watch the crowds of visitors transfixed by the films in Power of Making to realise that people remain fascinated by how things are made. Yet, for a gamut of reasons that began with the industrial revolution and encompass globalisation as well as technological advances, our chance to have direct contact with makers and making has decreased considerably.