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Crafts

An overview of the Crafts industry in Scotland

It’s difficult to measure the crafts sector. It’s made up of lots of small companies or sole traders, and covers a huge range of work.

Knitting, glassmaking, goldsmithing, flower arranging, woodworking — essentially, creative industries in which people make something according to a specific and structured format. 

The big picture 

We can only estimate the number of craft businesses or practitioners in Scotland. A report created for Creative Scotland in 2012 suggested there could be as many as 3,350,contributing around £70m to the national economy every year.  

It also identified four types of crafting professional – careerists, artisans, career changers and returners. Careerists and artisans make craft their main career. Career changers usually take it up later in life. Returners have trained in arts, crafts or design, but followed another career path. 

The report estimates that around 39% of people in the industry are careerists, 33% are career changers, and the remainder are artisans and returners.   

Working in craft 

The Crafts Council estimates that only 20% of employment in the craft sector in Scotland is actually within the craft industries. Another 10% might work in other creative industries, like design or textiles.70% of craftspeople, according to their report, work outwith the creative industries altogether.   

Craft Scotland and The Crafts Council both highlight employment opportunities, as well as exhibitions and events where craft workers can highlight and promote their work.  

Developing your skills 

Colleges and universities across Scotland offer courses in a wide range of craft subjects. Grays School of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College, Edinburgh College of Art, Glasgow School of Art, Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design and the University of the Highlands and Islands all offer undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.  

Craft Scotland, in partnership with the Crafts Council, offers two programmes for craft skills development: Hothouse and Injection. Hothouse supports new makers at the beginning of their careers, and Injection is designed for established makers. Programmes are open to all makers in all crafts.  

Applied Arts Scotland (AAS) is an artist-led, free-to-join organisation that supports craftspeople, designer-makers and applied artists working in Scotland. They create regular networking opportunities and conferences that allow makers to meet and exchange ideas, and support ongoing professional development through training and mentoring. 

Funding 

Scottish-based makers have access to a wide variety of awards and funding programmes – you’ll find links to more information below.  

Supporting agencies 

The primary agency supporting the Scottish sector is Craft Scotland. A charity partly funded by Creative Scotland, it creates opportunities for Scottish makers to exhibit, promote and sell their work.  

Applied Arts Scotland is a maker-run charity that aims to develop public appreciation of the applied arts, and to support the designers, makers and artists working in crafts.  

The agency for the UK as a whole, including Scotland, is The Crafts Council, which has the goal of making the UK the best place to make, see, collect and learn about contemporary crafts.  

If you’d like to know more

Find out more about the sector: 

Find out more about funding and opportunities: 

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