For a very long time traditional crafts have existed without any formal support network outside of each individual crafts guild or association. The Heritage Crafts Association is a new association that has been set up to represent the interests of all traditional crafts which do not fall under the remit of other organisations. The Crafts Council support and promote contemporary crafts, heritage building crafts have the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, but for a long time traditional crafts which don’t fall under either of these umbrella’s have had to muddle along on their own. Clog makers, trug makers, traditional weavers, besom broom makers and a whole host of others have long known that their crafts skills are an important part of living heritage but there has been no organisation to represent them. Until now!
The Heritage Crafts Association’s website states;
“The Heritage Crafts Association is the advocacy body for traditional heritage crafts. Working in partnership with Government and key agencies, it provides a focus for craftspeople, groups, societies and guilds, as well as individuals who care about the loss of traditional crafts skills, and works towards a healthy and sustainable framework for the future.” heritagecrafts.org.uk
I think the formation of an organisation to promote and protect tradition crafts as living skills, rather than activities which belong in museums can, only be a good thing. After all as my journey around the country is proving traditional crafts and the skilled craftspeople who practice them, help to define the individuality of an area and link us to our heritage and locality.
If it is true that human progress is made possible by our ability to pass on knowledge and experience then it is imperative these traditional crafts are seen as part of our living heritage rather than packaged as historic reenactments . They form part of our cultural inheritance and as such we are obliged to pass them on to the next generation.
So, the Heritage Crafts Association can only be a good thing as far as I am concerned. Prince Charles agrees with me, he has agreed to be the Association’s president, which for an organisation only a couple of years old is no mean feat. They have also gained support amongst government departments and all this in two years – amazing!