In the UK, The Department for Culture, Media and Sport are currently proposing dropping craft from their list of creative industries. "We recognise that high-end craft occupations contain a creative element, but the view is that in the main, that these roles are more concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process.". This in effect removes craft work from funding opportunities, drops the value /price of high end craft work and otherwise ghettoizes crafts in the arts community. This concerns me.
Here are the 5 key questions that have been created to determine if your work qualifies as creative work....
1. Novel process - Does the role most commonly solve a problem or achieve a goal, even one that has been established by others, in novel ways? Even if a well-defined process exists which can realise a solution, is creativity exhibited at many stages of that process?
2. Mechanisation resistant - The very fact that the defining feature of the creative industries is their use of a specialised labour force shows that the creative labour force clearly contributes something for which there is no mechanical substitute.
3. Non-repetitiveness or non-uniform function - Does the transformation which the occupation effects likely vary each time it is created because of the interplay of factors, skills, creative impulse and learning?
4. Creative contribution to the value chain - Is the outcome of the occupation novel or creative irrespective of the context in which it is produced; one such context being the industry (and its standard classification) of the organisational unit that hosts or employs the role? For example, a musician working on a cruise ship (a transport industry) is still creative while a printer working within a bank is probably operating printing technology and hence would be considered mechanistic and not creative.
5. Interpretation, not mere transformation - does the role do more than merely 'shift' the service or artefacts form or place or time? For instance, a draughtsperson/CAD technician takes an architect's series of 2D drawings and renders them into a 3D model of the building. While great skill and a degree of creative judgement are involved, arguably the bulk of the novel output is generated by the architect and not by the draughtsperson.
Hmm, let me ask these questions of MY "craft" work...
Hand painted/dyed silk scarves - no, yes, yes, yes, yes
Wet felting - no, no, yes, yes, yes
Ceramics - no, yes, yes, yes, yes
But what if my work was...
Bulk dying of silk - no, no, yes, no, yes
Wet felting "blocks" for other purposes - no, no, no, yes, yes
Making purses from felts - no, no, no, no, no
Ceramic bowls - no, no, no, no, no