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Increasing Resilience in the Craft Sector post-Covid

6 May 2021

Research report from Craft NI

In March 2021, Craft NI commissioned research into the impact of Covid-19 on the craft sector in Northern Ireland, through maker surveys, desk research and interviews. We are grateful to Smith  Kent Consulting for this useful snapshot of the sector a year after the first lockdown. This research was supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Stability and Renewal Programme.

We hope this report will be of interest to: local and central government, economic development agencies, stakeholders in arts, culture and tourism and others concerned with the success of the craft sector and its continuing contribution to our quality of life in Northern Ireland.

Some Key Findings

Income: Craft makers in Northern Ireland saw their profits cut in half during the pandemic with additional hits on teaching, workshops and other craft-related income.

Talent pipeline: The impact was felt by new and established makers alike with recent graduates denied early-career development opportunities – with implications for our talent pipeline.

Future Resilience: training for craft makers should be tailored and must combine some important elements: skills for self-employment; business, marketing and digital skills along with networking and mentoring from the craft sector.

Reaching buyers and audiences: covid has accelerated online sales in craft and makers have moved quickly this year to increase their online presence and upskill. However, craft audiences are keen to return to galleries and exhibition spaces; and opportunities to see and feel products are important for higher value sales and work from newer makers.

Building resilience: Working together with local government, enterprise and arts agencies to build opportunities for makers in training, networking, mentoring and promotion will be key to recovery; Exploring craft-based experiences; increasing the availability of quality craft for sale throughout NI and ‘Buy Local’ campaigns be important elements in coming back from covid. Efforts to increase craft exports should be renewed.

Read full report with Executive Summary

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