UK to drop crafts from
list of creative industries


UK to drop crafts from list of creative industries

News: crafts will no longer be considered part of the creative industries under proposals published by the UK government this week.

The proposed change is part of a review of the UK's creative industries set out in Classifying and Measuring the Creative Industries, a consultation paper released by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport yesterday.

"We recognise that high-end craft occupations contain a creative element, but the view is that in the main, these roles are more concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process," says the paper.

Arts and antiques will also be dropped from the list of recognised creative industries, while other categories will be merged into "broad creative industry groups".

A number of new IT categories are proposed to reflect the growing technology sector.

Announcing the consultation, culture minister Ed Vaizey wrote on his blog: "Huge and rapid changes in the use of technology and digital media in the creative industries means that it’s time to take a full review of our classifications."

He added: "Digital tools are now utterly embedded in the creative process, so we want to introduce some areas of IT that are used creatively."

Adopting the new classification system boosts the number of people employed in the UK's creative industries to 1,487,000 people, according to the DCMS, compared to 897,000 under the previous methodology. The figure rises to 2,153,000 if creative occupations outside the creative industries are taken into account.

IT, software and computer services is the biggest of the new broad creative industry groups, with 470,000 employees, according to the paper. Publishing employs 214,000 people while Film, TV, radio and photography account for 205,000 jobs.

Music, performing and visual arts employ 182,000 people. Advertising and marketing is the next largest with 144,000 workers, followed by Design and designer fashion with 103,000. Architecture is the smallest of the new broad creative industry groups, employing 99,000 people.

The proposed changes are intended to update the ground-breaking 1998 Creative Industries Mapping Documents, which were one of the first attempts to quantify the value of creative businesses to the economy.

The review adopts the “creative intensity” methodology to discern which sectors should be included as creative industries. Any industry where more than 30% of workers do creative jobs is considered a candidate for inclusion.

Consultation on the proposed changes closes on 14 June 2013. Details of how to respond can be found here.

Top image of a potter courtesy of Shutterstock.

  • federouge

    Screw you, UK.

  • future architect

    What is the definition of craft? The rise of computer and aids doesn’t mean the creative process is eliminated. For that craft should be kept. How many people use non IT-aided methods?

  • dickc


  • I despair. Crafts not part of the creative industries?

    I would like to see the Minister for Culture Media and Sports throw a pot or design and make a silver necklace. Why is this less creative than fashion design?

    There must be a financial reason for this. I do notice that my own area, architecture, has been embraced. It looks to me as if “creative” now means technology.

    I have designed a garden office for a software specialist and many offices for crafts people. They are all creative folk.

  • Sad mistake. No crafts, no memory. They shouldn´t mix crisis, its effects, ways to face it and the temptation to throw away everything not profitable in a short way. They should look at Scandinavian countries like Finland, selling crafts with design.

  • Lloyd

    How saddening, how typical. Making things with your hands is not creative?

    In the UK we no longer celebrate the crafts and craftsmanship and this has had a direct link with the erosion of our standing as manufacturing nation.

    I now work in Germany ‘making things with my hands’ because my rate of pay is double what I can earn the UK, and I’m respected as a professional, whereas here if you are a skilled tradesman you are looked upon with disdain.

    This simply serves to reinfoce these backward attitudes.

  • Sam

    A clear example of why this whole country is going to pot.

    • bob

      Haha, thats a good one Sam!

  • themotherinlawskitchen

    So crafts is now attached to the manufacturing industry. The MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY!! Where probably, more often than not, MACHINES make things.

    Well, the government have gone and cocked that one right up too but it doesn’t matter cos I can buy me a nice vase for £3 at Woolworths. Oh wait…

  • Chiara

    …come again??

  • rorystott

    Am I missing something here? My reaction to this: so what?

    People who have craft jobs will still have craft jobs. They will just be classified as ‘manufacturers’ rather than ‘creative industries’ by the government. There is no inherent value in being ‘creative’ which makes you better than some lowly manufacturer – no matter how much the readers of Dezeen clearly assume so.

    The only thing that might make this announcement of any importance is if there is a difference in tax breaks, subsidies or similar between the two classifications. Which could even be a good thing for craft industries.

    • BLW

      Well, I take your point. Accuracy in language is important, otherwise why bother? If craft means a creative occupation to most people, then that’s what it means.

      The wider implication, though, is that it will skew the economic argument for crafts in education, which seems to be about the only leg we’re allowed to stand on. If crafts are seen to bring in very little money, then it’s easier to say there’s no need to teach them.

      For a little more on that see the Crafts Council’s response –

    • douglas

      Did anyone anyone say they believed they’re inherently better? How typical that someone with your sneering attitude assumes we all measure people in terms of a social hierarchy, and how typical that you reduce the issue to whether tax breaks are warranted or not.

      Actually, the debate regards the definition of what constitutes creativity, and this wouldn’t be so worrying if it did not clearly demonstrate the misinformed idiocy of the clueless idiots appointed to make important decisions.

      “No inherent value in being creative”

      “no matter how much the readers of Dezeen clearly assume so.”

      And what would you know about creativity or the creative industries? Lets couch this in a language I suspect you’ll understand. Apple made $156 billion in 2012. Does that appeal to your sensibilities or the values you cherish?

      Anyone with half a brain will tell you that the key to all that money being raked in (I can just picture the £ signs rolling round your eyeballs now) is Jonathan Ive’s ‘creativity’, the very quality you dismiss as some inconsequential, delusional personal vanity.

      If ever a cliche applied its to people like you; who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

      • Esme

        I think your argument just shows how watery the term “creative” is these days. Is being creative making things with your hands like a craftsperson? is it imagining things in your mind like an architect?

        There is no inherent value in being labeled “creative” if the word means everything and nothing. It used to be a term reserved solely for divine actions: the making of something from nothing. Only Gods and Large Hadron Colliders can do that. Now the word creative seems to be applied to things that are considered innovative, but the word is not used consistently across the board to apply to all forms of producing. Rather, it is arbitrarily applied to branches of art and design when they make something decorative, or new looking, regardless of use value.

        Various Industries cling to the term “creative” as a marketing strategy because it implies innovation and newness, a myth that keeps consumers consuming (why would they buy so many things they didn’t need if they didn’t think they were getting something new?) and the economy running as it is. Ironically, this sort of “creativity” maintains the status quo more than anything else.

        I don’t think calling something “creative” is a big complement. The word has become more of a marketing slogan, indicating the way advertisers want you to think about a product based on appearances. In this sense, creativity has more to do with the symbolic value than the inherent value of anything.

        • douglas

          “Rather, it is arbitrarily applied to branches of art and design when they make something decorative, or new looking, regardless of use value. ”

          Yeah, it always has.

          “It used to be a term reserved solely for divine actions: the making of something from nothing.”

          Your contention that the term creative has a historical meaning (that has since become usurped) proves what, exactly – are telling me we no longer live in the Middle Ages? Wow, I never knew that.

          “Various industries cling to the term “creative” as a marketing strategy because it implies innovation and newness, a myth that keeps consumers consuming.”

          You point out that the term ‘creative’ can be misapplied and also misappropriated by marketeers. Well, welcome to the world of language – none of the examples you cite detracts from the correct use of the term.

          The term ‘creative’ is not a misapplication with regard to craft. It’s also a general term, given the ‘craft’ context, and to some degree a successful inference does rely on the intelligence of the recipient of any communication and their ability to accept that language includes and relies on nuance.

          “I don’t think calling something “creative” is a big compliment.”

          No, that doesn’t surprise me. When someone classifies craft as ‘creative’, they expect people (like you) to understand what is meant without having a nervous breakdown or becoming bitter towards the crafts people for whom the term legitimately confers value and a sense of professional esteem that is not unduly immodest to demand.

  • falouro

    As a student of crafts, graduating in about a week, words cannot express to you how I despair. The crafts sector employs 88,250 people in the UK and makes a £3bn annual contribution to the UK economy, higher than that of the visual arts, cultural heritage or literature sectors.

    Not only that, it is still an industry fighting to gain some respect and recognition!

  • “…the view is that in the main, these roles are more concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process,” says the paper.

    D**kheads: the creative process is just the flip-side of the manufacturing process – they can’t be separated.

  • ces

    That’s just sad. :(

  • Just another symptom of myopic thinking. Craft is about the haptic (I am an artist who works in clay) and the social value of that is indirect but palpable. Haptic experience makes for more rounded, less violent, more disciplined thinking and behaviour. This has a direct influence on the capacity to contribute economically.

    This is not a woolly argument. I am even writing this on a smartphone. The haptic makes money and craft makes the haptic! Wake up England.

  • Inestyle

    Well, does this make Grayson Perry officially only a potter and not a creative artist? Terrible decision.

  • I am ashamed of this country – artists may use technologically-enhanced means to make their work less time consuming and with digital technologies available to the artists we can be even more creative too. All crafts people are artists – products made solely by machines are not art – but anything that has the hand and mind of a person embodied within it is art. Don’t devalue the talent that we have within the UK – it is already downgraded enough to the point where the majority of artists barely earn a living wage simply because of the trash we import from other countries where products are produced with cheap labour in sweat shops.. A lesson to be learned – it doesn’t just apply to the rag trade.

  • Helen

    So me spending a day or more developing an idea before I make it isn’t creative? Wow, who would have thought! What a load of manure.

  • douglas

    “We recognise that high-end craft occupations contain a creative element, but the view is that in the main, these roles are more concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process”

    This just illustrates how clueless and hubristic politicians are. In the UK, we’ve already had the presenter of a TV property show – basically a glorified estate agent – appointed as advisor on the housing crisis, now a person with no arts background whatsoever deciding what constitutes creativity. I bet you this is simply an excuse to cut start-up grants awarded to designer-makers, such as the Cockpit Arts studios etc.

    These twerps are utter philistines.

  • borisb

    Craft should not be part of the creative industries. Of course not. But arts, as written, are not part of the creative industries?

  • An insult to every single one of the talented painters, potters, and other ‘creatives’ who enrich our lives so much.

    I am ashamed to live in the same country as decision makers who have quite clearly taken leave of reality and common sense.

  • Tom

    I would recommend Glenn Adamson’s ‘Thinking Through Craft’ where he provides quite a convincing argument that a) ‘craft’ has always been defined in terms of its subordinate status to fine art and other forms of manuafacture and has consequently always ‘needed saving’ and that b) craft’s strength and innovative potential is often derived form the very fact that the craftsperson’s strategies and modes of making are misunderstood.

    I gather this to mean that the preconceptions of people like DCMS (who are probably thinking of the tat seen in ‘craft shops’ on half-term holidays to Devon) are so far wide of the mark that the potential of craft objects to please and surprise is heightened by the fact that this is so unexpected.

  • Crafts are not driven by creativity, rather by the improvement of manufacturing techniques. I agree, but it’s a simplistic point of view. Everyone start out discovering how to technically make something and in that process generates new ideas to make based on the manufacturing skills repetition gives them. Either way, just make stuff and sell it.

  • m.hamilton

    Mmm, craft, talent and creativity, if only these feckless politicians possessed just a small percentage of it, perhaps this country wouldn’t be in such a mess, wtf do we pay them for!

  • Robert Donald

    I do agree with most of previous corresponents’ comments. If the idea of craft is difficult for the department to clearly define it does suggest that the wrong people are in the department in the first place.

    Is it beyond the department’s creative capabilities to sub-divide different areas of craft/creation etc? Is this inability to think ‘outside the box’ what is holding back investment in innovation and progress in the country’s boardrooms and Government.

    With the ‘attack’ by the arts minister on the financial viability of the arts to be seen as their main value and virtue what is this Government trying to do – kill off any individuality and spotaneity in the individual. The arts are already almost eliminated from the education timetable.

  • This country is indeed run by feckless idiots, but this is probably just an adjustment in statistics to either reduce the percentage the creative industries add to the economy or increase manufacturing percentages to give this government a growth statistic or something to try and argue they know what they are doing when in actual fact they’re just stubborn and lost.

  • moregeous

    What an absolute bloody nonsense.
    I just created an e-petition on the subject, will post link when it’s formalised.

  • Nor

    The story continues over here:… with additional info.

  • I have been involved with graphic design all my working life across many sectors, witnessing first hand the industry developing with the impact of Macs and other IT systems, and I would say technological skills have overtaken creative skills.

    Graphic designers are totally underpaid for the full range of skills they are expected to have and are undervalued by our society, along with true artists and other creative professionals. That’s why I’ve decided to take up the craft of bag making and to create my own British made brand after discovering I was a natural at sewing. This is far more creative and satisfying than the excessive amount of time spent behind a computer as a graphic designer, so this announcement is somewhat surprising and illogical.

    The government, especially in terms of our economy (because that’s the only way they think), clearly do not understand the revolution taking place as regards locally produced handcrafted artisan products that hundreds of consumers are turning to because they are generally better quality than cheap factory imports. For example, have a look at Etsy. My heart goes out to all the craftspeople and artists throughout this country and I yearn for a modern day William Morris to turn this decision around.

  • This is insane. These are the people that are enriching our lives with their creativity.

  • Scruffy

    It seems these days that, unless unless IT is involved, creativity is no longer valued. I could weep for those who create – painters, potters, carpenters, textile designers, etc. There is no value attached to the heart and soul which goes into their work. We are slowly creating people who cannot think outside the confines of phone/PC/iPad. Thank heaven we have the legacy of the greats to sustain and inspire, but what of the younger generation unless they have inspirational teaching? Dreadful, dreadful and insulting decision.

  • Moregeous

    The e-petition is now up and running at – – for anyone who feels passionately that this is a wrong choice by the UK Govt.

  • anoise

    Let’s face it, becoming a “crafts” designer/maker in the UK has become a lifestyle choice for the well heeled. This is why not being considered “creative” hurts so much.

  • Tachy
  • Nicolas

    Talking Textiles gives interesting coverage of the petition in the light of the department of culture statement about this on 22 May:

  • gama1129

    Ooh, looks like someone has words they don’t understand or they did not look the definition of: “Creating”, or “art”, or “craft”. Boy, this happens when people do things they don’t know about…

    Here in NY, there is a big fashion school that doesn’t teach pattern making anymore!. What? So from now on, students can “design” clothes they will not even know are possible to make, ’cause they are not considered for making anymore.

    I pity them, they will be handicapped all their lives. Wow, I have to admire some of those guys who decide those laws, otherwise, I could get angry.

  • John P

    I think most people recognise the work of a craftsperson be they a plumber or a painter. I do not need some high paid government employee to tell me what craft is.
    This whole thing seems a pointless exercise aimed at justifying the existence of certain people. These are, for some of us, hard times. Do we need to be wasting money on such pointless exercises?

  • This is a very disappointing notice, although people with the passion to craft will not allow this to deter them. And a buyer with an eye for custom items won’t care either.