Hands of makers from Scotland and Mexico around a partly-constructed kilt. The hands hold various tools used in kilt-making.

In the summer of 2020, Applied Arts Scotland committed to undertake sustained action to ensure our own organisation and the wider craft sector is open and accessible to all. To aid this, we published an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan that identified clear ways in which we would meet this commitment, taking an intersectional approach to discrimination. Four months since making this commitment, we are reviewing what we have done and setting out what we plan to do over the coming months.

What we’ve done since summer:

  • Dr Karen Patel joined our July board meeting and discussed her research and findings based on conversations with 15 female makers who have experienced discrimination based on race. Dr Patel’s research findings are available in a working paper at These discussions continue to inform our work.
  • We have convened a “Making Community” working group of board members and advisers who actively support sustained and consistent action to challenge discrimination in all its forms. The working group are responsible for making progress with and regularly updating the Action Plan, and report back to the full Applied Arts Scotland Board at every board meeting.
  • We have increased the diversity of experience on our board by co-opting one new board member and recruiting another two through an open call. The new board members, appointed in October 2020, bring skills including advocacy for Scottish creatives who experience race-based discrimination, and working to make communities fair, equal and inclusive. The open call for board members was advertised via Creative Scotland, Craft Scotland and promoted widely across social media, with an emphasis on recruiting makers who experience discrimination in any form. The skills of the new board members inform the work of the Making Community group.
  • We have started to update the information we present on our website. We have added a range of case studies from recent projects, including where we worked alongside artisan communities in Thailand and Mexico. These case studies highlight our partnership ways of working collaboratively to support needs identified by artisan communities in a way that is sustainable for them in the long term.
  • We have started to amplify the voices from project partners on international collaborations, beginning with profiling international and Scotland-based collaborators (whose new work will be exhibited at Meet Make Collaborate) during Craft Week Scotland, 9-15 November 2020. We will keep developing the content on our website to amplify the voices of a diverse range of makers.
  • We have developed an equalities survey that we will issue in January. This will allow us to collect baseline information about our membership, people who have accessed our services and people we have worked with that spans all protected characteristics as well as other factors that may present barriers to participation in crafts/creative sector. We intend to issue the equalities survey annually so that we can see any changes over time.
  • We are formally introducing diversity monitoring for our projects. We have updated our monitoring form in line with our updated annual equalities survey, and this will be used for all new projects. To the best of our knowledge, this form aligns with how Creative Scotland’s Regularly Funded Organisations monitor their activity as well as with existing information collected on maker demographics in published literature. This ensures our findings can be compared with those from other organisations and contribute meaningfully to sector-wide conversations.
  • We are requesting equality, diversity and inclusion policies from new partners and anyone seeking endorsement from our organisation.
  • We have joined Scottish and UK networks of craft organisations who are seeking to share best practice around anti-discrimination work and develop a charter for the sector.
  • We are actively promoting opportunities on social media that are relevant for makers who experience any form of discrimination; and sharing best practice for anti-discrimination approaches across the creative sector.
  • We have introduced subtitles and live transcription to our digital meetings to make these accessible to individuals who are D/deaf or have a hearing impairment.
  • We have received funding for a research and development project on digital immersive technologies and craft engagement. An explicit aim of this work is to identify barriers to accessing digital and immersive technologies due to protected and non-protected characteristics.

What we were already doing:

  • Over the last three years, we have developed project activities that support young people, emerging and professionalising makers to access craft-based careers through apprenticeships, and continue to seek opportunities to expand this work.
  • Last year, we introduced Associate Membership for makers who are working towards meeting the criteria for Professional Membership, so that aspiring professional makers can access our peer support networks.
  • Since 2015, we have supported cross-cultural collaborations between Scottish and international makers, with themes around identity, sustainability and collaboration.
  • Over 2019-20, we have supported makers from Scotland to collaborate with makers and artisans from Mexico, Thailand and Canada in order to create objects for exhibition related to the themes of identify, sustainability and collaboration. These objects will be exhibited in Scotland and Canada during 2021 at Meet Make Collaborate, which aims to engage members of the public in conversations around identity. Learning from these collaborations has been shared via our website/social media and will underpin the international craft symposium Old stories, new narratives (postponed from 2020).

What we’re working on now:

  • We’re still reviewing and updating how we present information on our website and social media. We will continue to add case studies for projects, including international work with craft communities in Mexico, India and Nepal as well as projects with makers here in Scotland, where the voice of the makers are at the forefront.
  • Training: We are reviewing the training that board members have taken around equalities, diversity and inclusion. Subject to the outcome of this review, we will arrange additional training for individual board members or the entire board.
  • Equalities survey: Once we have the survey results, we will compare these with census data for Scotland and maker data for the UK to identify any characteristics that are under-represented among our membership. The Applied Arts Scotland Board will then consider what the barriers might be to access membership, our services and partnerships, and identify ways to remove these barriers. We will publish what we find and what we plan to do on our website.
  • Monitoring: We are about to ask participants in current projects to complete the updated monitoring form so that we can begin to accumulate information about who applies for and takes part in our projects. We will consider this information alongside what we learn from the equalities survey in order to identify and remove barriers to participation in our projects.
  • We are developing activity that will support makers to develop statements that describe their approach and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion within their own practice – whether in terms of the work they create, who they work with, or in development of public-facing activities – and the actions they (will) take to support equality of access to craft. We will begin with a fact-finding and information-sharing session at our Members’ Zoom Coffee Morning in November 2020.
  • In conversation with a closed group of older, female makers we are exploring how we can support their discussions around ongoing creative practice and ageing, including identifying the needs of mature makers living and working in Scotland, the gap in general understanding of how the individual, older creative individual uses their practice to help navigate the ageing process and what knowledge and experience can be shared with younger makers to assist how they navigate into this stage of their life and creative practice.
  • We are reviewing the criteria for Professional Membership. We acknowledge that these criteria can be more difficult to achieve for people who experience discrimination, since several of them are dependent upon approval or recognition by gatekeepers (such as galleries, shops and/or funders). We are exploring new criteria that remove the need for institutional gatekeeping, for example, around self-initiated or community-funded projects.

If you would like further information or to provide feedback on any of this, please get in touch. We will continue to share regular updates on progress as we implement, review and update our Action Plan.