An innovative free national course Sustaining Craft Business Practice designed to support Scottish craft practitioners to restructure their businesses after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been developed and launched by Lews Castle College, UHI in partnership with Applied Arts Scotland and Skills Development Scotland.
The SVQ accredited course has been informed by the following insights into the impact of the pandemic on makers provided by Applied Arts Scotland series of Voices of Makers blogs contributed by makers across Scotland.
Impact of the Pandemic
Studios were closed with many makers unable to access the equipment they needed to make their work. Income was lost by cancelled or postponed workshops, commissions cancelled or delayed, stockists closed, supplies of materials delayed, exhibitions postponed and selling events cancelled or moved online. Makers with families had to change their working patterns to look after them often sharing computers with partners and their children for school work. The variety between makers’ practices, lifestyles and locations meant each one had a different combination of challenges to face.
Makers described feeling frustration, tension, fear, uncertainty, loss, fragility and difficulties finding a space mentally to create. For some lost income was replaced by Government or Creative Scotland grants. Many had no way of making their work.
At the same time the things that really mattered became clearer – spending more time with a partner, enjoying being with the whole family, walking around the neighbourhood, enjoying the little things in life, and the need to be creative and to make.
Time for Making
For many makers these restrictions in lifestyle and enforced free time created a space for creativity. They had time for drawing, reading and research. They could do things they had wanted to do for a long time, such as a masterclass, explore a technique they had wanted to play with for years and experiment with different materials, all inspiring ideas for new work.
There was time to completely rethink and redefine their practices, reset, explore where they wanted to direct their energy, adjust their working patterns and plan and think ahead. In their businesses they developed and improved their websites, tried new initiatives, learned to sell online and use Instagram, improved photography and focused on how to develop new projects.
Many makers also supported NHS Scotland sewing scrubs, masks and bags.
Underpinning these activities was the value of communication online and the chance to share and hear from other makers and the reassurance this gives.
With this understanding of the impact of the pandemic, the new flexible course has been designed to provide craft practitioners from any craft discipline across Scotland with the skills required to implement new ideas, re-structure an existing business and to support new makers and graduates to develop their businesses and creativity.
It focuses on design and innovation, sustainability, project management, international trade, business planning and marketing with makers taking part encouraging and supporting each other through online groups.
Designed by industry experts it provides a new model of teaching and training. Expert tutors and experienced practitioners will provide a learning experience that has been carefully designed to provide essential skills for craft businesses in a post-Covid era.
Deadline for applications 10 January 2022.
Image: Making Scrubs for NHS Scotland, Voices of Makers blog – Claire Heminsley