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‘Mixture Matters’ report reveals challenges and opportunities in the business models of contemporary craft development organisations

Catalyst Craft Consortium publish ‘Mixture Matters’ report by Sarah Thelwall

A consortium of five nationally acclaimed organisations have commissioned a report to investigate the challenges and opportunities in the business models of contemporary craft development organisations.  The report is based on financial data and is written by Sarah Thelwall, founder of MyCake and the Culture Benchmark.

The Catalyst Craft Consortium are: Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool; Craftspace, Birmingham; Devon Guild, Bovey Tracey, Devon; Manchester Craft & Design Centre; and Smiths Row, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.  These five small independent organisations have been working together to develop skills and evidence to attract philanthropy and investment, and explore new areas of fundraising. The consortium is funded by Arts Council England’s ‘Catalyst 3: building fundraising capacity’ scheme (2013-15).

‘Mixture Matters’ is based on two years’ financial data, compared against equivalent data from the wider visual arts sector nationally.  The report identifies a number of sector-specific conditions for contemporary craft organisations, including widely ranging business models, expectations of commerciality that affect the type of work shown (e.g. challenging vs commercial craft), and the difficulty of generating income from supporting early-career makers compared with the visual arts sector (‘deferred value creation’).  It also evidences high levels of income generation and entrepreneurial skills within the five organisations, and lower than average levels of grant dependency.

As small independent organisations the Catalyst Craft Consortium feel that by developing an evidence base to establish how the craft sector fits within the national funding and philanthropy ecology, new opportunities for the sector have been highlighted.  The report will be disseminated and discussed with colleagues and peers at a seminar on Thursday May 21st 2015 at Workspace, London.

“The challenge to contemporary craft development organisations is to achieve a critical mass of strategic thinkers and harness their combined intelligence and insight. The Catalyst Craft Consortium has started this under the auspices of its Catalyst funding. The question is how can it continue?” (Sarah Thelwall, Mixture Matters, May 2015).

You can download and read the report by clicking the link below.