30 August 2010

craftscotland AGM :: 27 August 2010

Comfortably seated in the very grand surroundings of Edinburgh City Chambers, I sit. Louise Butler, Co-Chair of craftscotland Board of Directors gives a warm welcome and introduction to the proceedings. Over-and-above the formal aspects of an AGM (approval of minutes, budget etc) she offers an introduction to new members to the craftscotland Board and while names escape me, their knowledge doesn’t – business, fund raising, festival direction, theatre direction craft practice and banking. Mindful additions!

CEO, Emma Walker opens her talk with a dynamic short film summarizing the key achievements and changes to the organisation over the past year (– including the new team of 7, new premises - from broom cupboard to ‘proper’ open plan studio -, new philosophy, The C Word campaign, new approach to exhibiting at COLLECT, website facelift, Meet Your Maker campaign) before going into detail about each of these.

My notes from Emma’s jam-packed, positive talk include:

Identified Problem : 2009
“Craft is promoted to the converted which gives the illusion of a clique. We need to be promoted in a high profile, public way.”

Investigation Route through the Problem: 2009
A ‘What is Scottish Craft?’ survey was conducted and essentially two categories of answers – positive and negative, with an example of each given below:

“Perception of the work is amateur consequently I avoid the ‘c’ word in most of my marketing.”

“Encourage craft artists to be proud to be linked to the word. It is not a dirty word.”

The upshot of the survey was that Scottish Makers really wanted to walk away from the word’ craft’. Subsequently the initial mission of craftscotland was to reclaim the word craft; re/position craft; encourage passion, pride and enthusiasm; promote Scottish craft in a high profile arena; develop new audiences.

The Team
Emma Walker, CEO.
Rebecca Davis, Audience Development Officer
Jo Scott – Business Administrator
Rick Anderson, Admin and Event Assistant
Melanie Paget, Online Assistant (Graduate Internship)
Rachel McCrum, PhD Researcher

Future Plans
Future plans include the launch of the new philosophy; craftscotland membership (scheduled to launch in January 2011); redevelop website, (with the new site focused on inspiring the sector and have an American Website (as it is the biggest export market for Scottish Craft) and a marketing budget which is being achieved through a recent award for £43K, received for project AmbITion from new innovation Fund.

Future communication of craftscotland.... craftscotland is a creative organization; an outward facing audience development agency whose philosophy is to unite, inspire and champion Scottish craft.  Its values are to champion quality, be brave, creative and forward looking and, to act with integrity.

Acknowledged Room for Improvement
Although craftscotland has been successful in many areas, acknowledgement was given to the need to feedback and better communicates the recent achievements and new initiatives back to craft practitioners and sector in Scotland.

Final word to everyone involved with Scottish craft - “We are here for you, so speak to us!!”

Phew!! I was exhausted after listening to the activity so goodness only knows how Emma feels after actually conducting it all!

Next up was…

Rebecca Davis: Audience Development Officer

And the ‘piste de rĂ©sistance’ of the afternoon was …

Lisa Bayne, CEO Artful Home
Invited International Speaker
A marketing-focused, brand aware individual.

LV's notes:
Artful Home as a leading online marketing partner to professional artists and designers in North America and, a destination for buyers and trade professionals.  
After a little history (-founded in 1985 as a publishing business, became guild.com in 1999, launched the Artful Home brand and then rebranded it in 2008 -), Lisa, relaxed and confidently explained the key asset of the company is its relationships, (which are based on quality). Relationships! Relationships! Relationships!

It operates using a Zero Inventory Model to an Elite High-ticket Purchaser Community. It has High Credibility with Consumers and High Credibility in Artist Community. It has deep Internal Knowledge and Experience of each Artist.

What do we mean by a ‘Zero Inventory Model? Well, essentially, they buy absolutely nothing! They represent 900 artists. Market this work to the best of their ability. Take 50% commission for each product sold online via Artful Home. Have a turn over of approx $9 million.

It’s not rocket science, but it’s a model of best practice that transparently offers an alternative to the gallery model particularly at a time when many (traditional brick and mortar) galleries are closing.

Lisa talked freely and eloquently about the jury process, online curation, key competitors, the artist community and marketing.

Marketing is what they are really about – it’s what they do and why they exist. For example, they have a catalogue (distribute 1.5 million copies, approx 72 pages, 6 per year, brings a sense of touch, sense of environment to user, it has a limited edited assortment, and acts as a preview to the online store). While 40% of items sold to catalogue recipients are not featured in catalogue the catalogue plays an important role - it acts as a gateway to online source. They use email (with a database of approx 80 000 names, the frequency of emailing is based on the time of year and, the message must be worth it to get to eyeballs). They also use paid search; SEO; Social Media, Public relations, and use no traditional advertising. Key Message:  They don’t rely on any one area of marketing.

They have a number of online curatorial opportunities, for example, email, catalogue and website design. Curation is used as a means of focusing the user/consumer’s attention. For example, they put the white show out when ‘The Beatles’ ‘White’ album was re-released and had an Alice in Wonderland theme when the Tim Burton film was released – on both occasions it made it seem as if the work was more relevant to popular and contemporary culture and, again, it focused the users when navigating the website.

Key Message: with each campaign they made it easy, kept it fresh; offered expertise as desired by customer and offered quality products and imagery.

Would love to see this for Scotland!!!

The E Word: Etsy
Lisa presented Etsy as an extraordinary business model with a turn over of $28 million a month (July 2010) with over a million items sold in a month. It’s a community for a democratic marketplace. Etsy is a very different model to the Artful Home model and therefore a very different experience for the consumer (as they have different expectations e.g. generational, life-stage, lifestyle expectations) and the artist. The Artful Home experience is that Etsy is not a successful model for professional artists.

Some Other Info / Statistics:
• Art, Craft is $14 Billion market in North America
• Combination of wall and craft art marketing north America is estimated to be $75 billion
• Artful Home: while it markets the majority of artforms it doesn’t include the digital, performing and interactive arts.
• The Artful Home work, marketed online, is chosen for inclusion via a jurying process.
Artful Home has a strong ongoing relationship with their artists and they currently have the broadest selection of original 3 dimensional art available online.

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