The Catalyst Craft Consortium – comprising of Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool; Craftspace, Birmingham; Devon Guild, Bovey Tracey, Devon; Manchester Craft & Design Centre; and Smiths Row, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk – has been working to develop skills and evidence to attract philanthropy and investment, and explore new areas of fundraising. The consortium commissioned this 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. The consortium is funded by Arts Council England’s ‘Catalyst 3: building fundraising capacity’ scheme (2013-15).
The first challenge is that unlike visual arts there is a perception that craft development organisations are well placed to earn a percentage of their income from the sale of the craft objects they commission or exhibit. It is notable that we would not set this as a priority for a gallery such as Chisenhale, Tate or Baltic. Whilst these organisations might recoup a set of commissioning costs should a work sell they are not expected to be a sales agent for the work. This dual role of development organisation and sales agency can be seen in the structure of the income models.