Wednesday, 30 October 2019

What the Network has achieved since its relaunch in April 2019

Intelligence exchange
  • There has been a lively exchange of research, inspiration and information.
    • From Craft exhibitions (Too many to mention all, but….., Alex Sickling at Manchester Craft and Design Centre (MCDC), Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair (GNCCF) Sheffield, Pottery Pioneers celebrating  the positive impact of ceramics on mental health (ARC, Stockport), Go Eco, Adam Ross, Collected and Jane Adam at the Bluecoat Display Centre), the Festival of Making, Textile Biennial,  Activities at the MMU Marketplace Stockport, , The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Halima Cassell’s exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, events and exhibitions at ARC Stockport 
    • … conferences and talks (Heritage Craft Association Conference, Why Craft Matters at Harewood House,  CERI (Cultural Education Research Initiative) Conference at Tate Liverpool, The Festival of Making, 2020 Textile and Place Conference)

Sharing members’ expertise and good practice
  • At our march 2019 meeting Jo Kay, an audience development specialist and NWCN member has shaped and delivered a session on ‘Audience Targeting for Craft Sales’ for regular members of the Network and wider contacts in the NW who might benefit.
  • For our September 2019 meeting three speakers presented on Craft and Well Being: Vicky Charnock, Arts for Health lead at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and two case studies by Verity Pulford, a maker who completed a residency/commission at the Walton Centre about the impact on a maker’s practice and Jacqui Wood – Artistic Director of ARC (Arts in the Community) Stockport about the Pottery Pioneers Project/Craft with Mums with Post Natal Depression.

Building the case for the value of craft
  • We continue to work on out collective letter to educational policy makers from leaders in the NW Craft sector outlining the essential part that craft education plays in sustaining the Creative Industries and our social and cultural capital both in the short and long term.  The letter has been drafted and we have gathered responses from those in the section who will see and feel the impact on culture, employment and communities further down the line.

Building infrastructure for collaborative work and resource sharing (joint projects and exhibitions)
  • Rebecca Hill of Gallery Oldham has gathered a working group NW touring craft showcase. Additional galleries have expressed an interest. There is still the possibility of this being part of the Crafts Council’s Year of Craft in 2021 and have explored angles and themes. A collections meeting took place in Liverpool at the Walker Art Gallery. Several outcomes are possible, and Nicola Scott is preparing a draft proposal for a craft show in a showcase at the Walker for discussion by the programming team. Further collections visits are planned to gain an understanding what is in our collections that we could explore in a show.
  • The Jerwood Makers Open will come to Manchester City Gallery in early 2020 and we have explored the possibility of staging a curatorial development event in collaboration with MAG.

Supporting a healthy craft ecology
  • We generated and took part in numerous discussions about how to create a healthy craft sector from nourishing future creative to developing resilient leaders. For example, the Festival of making created business support events for makers.
  • We created a new logo (see above )to give the work of the NWCN a visual identity. Great Northern Events chipped in to support us to create a simple text based logo for members to use.
  • We put together some ‘Terms of Reference’ to aid new members to the group and to encourage free and prolific information exchange.
  • The NWCN is vigorously participating in the Craft UK forum to increase connectivity and the flow of information between crafts organisations widely across the UK

Thursday, 13 June 2019

The North West Craft Network: how it works

The North West Craft Network (NWCN) was set up in 2012 by a group of organisations with a connection to contemporary craft. This is how the North West Craft Network works, its 'terms and consitions' if you like:

The aim of the NWCN is to work together to interrogate and improve the following
Market development including developing the collectors market
Maker development, improving access to funding, studios, equipment and support
Perception and advocacy of the craft sector in the region
Curatorial development including critical writing
  • The NWCN is simply made up its members, there is no separate ‘NWCN’ only a budget for a small amount of admin connected with its meetings and promoting our operation as a Network. We work within our own resources to do better together what we usually do alone, sharing ideas, resource and expertise around contemporary craft.
  • Members share news about events, openings, research via email. It’s important to do this directly, not via the coordinator - our aim is to get information flowing freely through the Network, not all going through a gatekeeper. If you’re a member, you can get an up to date list of other members from the co-ordinator. By joining the Network, it’s implied that you wish to share your work (or other supplied) email with your fellow professionals in it.
  • There are 2 meetings a year (and 2 steering group meetings to discuss finance and reporting)
  • We try and arrange a speaker and one or both meetings who addresses an issue of interest to members
  • Members arrange meetings with other members if they see an area of shared interest or a potential partnership on an ad hoc basis and to suit their own schedules.
  • Members sometimes come up with a project or idea to work on collectively and we usually create a working group of interested parties for these. For instance a collective letter (led by Tom Sutton of Bolton University) around educational policy, curatorial development events around the Jerwood Makers Open (Jennie McKellar of MAG) when it comes to Manchester or a NW touring craft show (Rebecca Hill, Gallery Oldham).
  • We have discussed whether we might apply for funding for projects, but this very much depends on whether individual members feel they can lead and resource this. If co-ordination time is needed, this would have to be resourced as well.
  • We have a logo. You can use this to promote events activites and news that you feel should be badged as a 'Network event'.

Monday, 11 February 2019

What the NW Craft Network has achieved - Autumn/Winter 2018

Connections and ideas continue to flow for the North West Craft Network. Ideas, small and large, hatched in the early part of the year are slowly coming to fruit, and we are beginning to revisit more ambitious plans that were seeded in early years and we now have the firmer foundation to start to make these things happen.

Intelligence exchange
  • Research, exhibition invitiations and information exchanged widely.
  • Awards and opportunities for makers shared with Development Group and wider networks. As a result of connections made through the NW Craft network in 2014 Liam Hopkins was shortlisted for Arts Foundation’s Designer Maker of the year award 2019.

Sharing members’ expertise and good practice
  • Jo Kay, an audience development specialist and member of the network has shaped an ‘Audience Targeting for Craft Sales’ session for the next Meeting of the NW Craft Development Group (early 2019). This part of the meeting has been opened more widely to organisations who don’t usually attend the meeting but who sell craft.
  • Crafts Council launched UK Craft Network, and we’ve talked with their lead on this to see how we can connect our North West members into this national network, exchange information and ideas, best practice and advocate for North West craft.
  • ARC’s (Arts for Recovery in the Community) CPD programme for volunteers on their Pottery Pioneers project is underway and will engage Network members to train volunteers.

Building the case for the value of craft
  • A task group will meet in early 2019 to workshop a collective letter about the value of Craft to Education for circulation to educational policy makers.

Building infrastructure for collaborative work and resource sharing (joint projects and exhibitions)
  • The Network will revisit its plans for an outstanding NW generated Craft showcase touring exhibition at our next meeting in March. This follows on from initial research in the previous years of the network.
  • The Jerwood Makers Open will come to Manchester City Gallery and members are keen to get involved with collaborative projects. This will be developed at the next meeting.

Supporting a healthy craft ecology
  • Manchester Craft and Design Centre connected with the lead on the Greater Manchester Cultural Strategy and we will be exploring collaborations.
  • Inspired by discussions around nourishing makers of the future, Manchester Art Gallery has decided to put on another Future Creative Event in March 2019. Students will be invited to respond to the gallery's displays to make products for sale in the gallery shop
  • Professional coach and maker Victoria Scholes delivered the third of three business review days for residents and networks of Manchester Craft and Design Centre in January 2019.