It's impossible to underestimate the shift in Britain's political landscape since I wrote my last blog, with the newspaper headlines dominated by the surprise EU result, resignations, leadership challenges and elections. The question occupying us is: what does this all mean for the craft sector?
As many readers will know, we sent out a survey to canvass opinion on makers' views around the issue of the referendum. From the huge number of responses we received, a pattern of concerns has emerged.
It seems as a group, British makers are concerned with the future of crafts education, worried that the arts are in danger of dropping out of a school curriculum that puts too much emphasis on the STEM subjects. The referendum has raised issues around social cohesion and they fervently believe that craft has the power to bring communities (both local and international) together, but that it needs further opportunities and a mature international framework to flourish. Thirdly, international promotion may well become even more important in promoting the UK outside of the EU and in presenting a positive image of the country. Makers think that Made in Britain remains a strong brand, though we need to be careful it doesn't become tarnished in our post-Brexit world and that, as a nation, we remain open to new ideas and new people.
At this stage we can't guage how the UK's relationship with Europe and the rest of the world will change, of course. From this organisation's perspective, we would like to let everyone in the craft world know that we are keen to understand what the implications are - whether legal, financial or cultural - and what we can do to address them. We believe that making in this country has always benefited from its outwardlooking, inclusive attitude. Craft has a rich history of evolving techniques, skills and knowledge and of welcoming makers from all over the globe. Promoting British craft internationally and creating those opportunities for showcasing and exchange remain important issues. It's something the Crafts Council will continue to support and advocate. One of the joys of making - like all the arts - is its ability to connect and empower people from all walks of life. It would be nice to think that by bringing our participation and exhibition programmes to different communities throughout the country, in its small way, craft can also help to address the divisions that the referendum highlighted.
All that said, normal business still goes on and the Crafts Council is busier than ever. We have A Curious Turn, our new touring exhibition of automata currently showing at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, and Julie Cope's Grand Tour: The Story of a Life by Grayson Perry will show at Banbury Museum in March. And in July we launched an important new report at the RSA. Innovation through Craft.