The report takes as its starting point this new definition of 'fine crafts' by ACE:
We examine the whole market of contemporary craft made by self-defined professional designer-makers. In accordance with Arts Council England policy we place particular emphasis on the market for contemporary fine craft. This is work that meets the following criteria:
• contemporary craft work that is cutting-edge and ensures the highest standard of workmanship
• work that must not seek to reproduce or restore, but rather must be innovative in its use of materials and aesthetic vision
• work that not only reflects the signature of the individual maker, but also demonstrates investigation of processes and critical enquiry.
Taking this definition as the starting point, the report goes on to propose a four-fold typology or segmentation of craft practices:
Segment 1 – Recognised craft and recognised designer-makers
Established designer-makers have work in significant public collections, and in solo exhibitions. They are concerned to be recognised for working in a fine art discipline and make for an international market. They make up 7.3 per cent of the sector.
Segment 2 – Progressive craft and progressive designer-makers
Designer-makers here are making themselves known for their cutting-edge work. Their work is beginning to be collected; it is intended for a national and an international market, but they sell at a range of outlets because of a shortage of dealers and high-quality outlets. These designer-makers make up 3.1 per cent of the sector.
Segment 3 – Emerging craft and emerging designer-makers
In this segment there is work by emerging designer-makers seeking to be recognised as progressive. They face a battle for survival and this often means making commercial work that subsidises more challenging work. These designer-makers comprise 4.9 per cent of the sector.
Segment 4 – Most craft and most craft designer-makers
This segment contains the vast majority of professional designer-makers – people who are driven to live by their creativity. They are generally making non-critically engaged work and are selling mainly to a local market. There are many very successful entrepreneurs in this group who make a good living from sales and commissions. These designer-makers are 84.7 per cent of the sector.
All in all, an interesting and useful piece of work that takes this question of definition forwards.