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Crafts: Facts & Figures

February 22, 2021
Published on:
March 4, 2020
January 24, 2021

Below are some headline statistics about the UK's crafts sector. You can find a list of research publications from the Crafts Council on its website here.

Craft and the Creative Economy (Govt Data)

Estimated total number of craft jobs in UK creative industries in 2018: 10,000 (i)

Estimated total number of craft jobs outside of the creative industries: 88,000. (ii)

Craft contribution in 2018 in Gross Value Added to the UK economy: £300m

Sources: (i) DCMS  Economic Estimates, June 2019, February 2020 (ii) Creative Industries Economic Estimates, January 2015; Note: DCMS no longer publishes a figure for number of UK crafts jobs outside the creative industries. Research published in 2015 by the Crafts Council (see below) provides quite different estimates  It estimates that the total craft employment footprint in the UK was 182,860 employees.

Measuring the Craft Economy (Industry Data)

Using a different approach to the data, The Crafts Council has published a number of reports on the size and growth rate of the crafts sector in the UK.

Key findings of this research include:

  • Crafts contributes ¬£3.4bn to the UK economy.
  • There are an estimated 11,620 UK crafts businesses, employing 149,510 people.
  • There are over ¬£5bn of exports from the UK crafts sector
  • Using data from the Annual Population Survey and Annual Business Survey, the 'Measuring the Craft Economy' report estimates that businesses involved in the craft industries contribute ¬£746m in GVA to the UK economy, with an additional ¬£243m of GVA generated by craft occupations in other creative industries and ¬£2.41bn of GVA generated by craft occupations in non-creative industries. This makes an estimated total GVA for the craft economy of ¬£3.398bn.

Source: Crafts Council presentation; Measuring the Craft Economy, Crafts Council, March 2015.

Crafts and Exports

  • The DCMS Economic Estimates that craft goods worth ¬£4.84bn were exported from the UK in 2017, an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year. (i)
  • Key European exports markets for UK crafts practitioners include France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Ireland. Globally, the Gulf markets and the USA are considered important.
  • The Crafts Council surveyed makers on their export activity and published the results in 'Supporting Makers' Needs: Survey Findings 2018' in October 2018.  The research found that 32 per cent of respondents' sales are from international work, up from 25 per cent in the previous survey. Those exporting tend to have been in business for longer, with 44 per cent of established makers selling overseas, compared to only 5 per cent of start-up makers.
  • The biggest perceived barriers to exporting crafts goods are logistics and shipping, closely followed by lack of networks and contacts and/or knowledge and experience. The study found that the perception of respondents identifying marketing as a barrier fell from 40 per cent to 26 per cent, and there was also a reduction in the perception of paperwork as a barrier from 26 per cent to 13 per cent, compared to previous Crafts Council research.

Source: DCMS Economic Estimates, August 2019; Supporting Makers' Needs: Survey Findings 2018, Crafts Council (2018)

People working in Craft - Characteristics

  • About four fifths of those working in craft are male, and 40 per cent are over 50. Craft participants are more likely to be female if they are self-employed, part-time
  • Those in craft occupations are more likely to have a completed an apprenticeship than the national population (13 per cent v four per cent of the overall workforce)
  • They are more likely to work full-time, be self-employed and earn less than the national wage, compared to the total UK workforce

UK Contemporary Craft

  • 88 per cent of craft businesses are sole traders.
  • The average length of time a business has been trading: 16 years
  • Over 60 per cent of makers have a first or second degree in craft, art or design.
  • 57 per cent of makers are using digital technology in some form in their practice or production.
  • 31 per cent of makers have changed their practice in the last three years in response to environmental concerns.
  • UK makers are increasingly working within a mixed economy, supplying other businesses whilst marketing their own products and services, and raising funding and other finance where possible for research and development.

Source: Craft in an Age of Change, Crafts Council, (2012).

Rural Contribution of UK Craft

  • It is estimated that craft practitioners contribute ¬£500m to the UK rural economy.
  • Taking into account the numerous other arts festivals, new rural media initiatives, contemporary rural crafts, rural design and architecture and other cultural activities taking place in the countryside, it is possible to conclude that the rural sector is now contributing far in excess of the estimated ¬£500 million p.a. to the national creative economy. This includes the contributions from all the professional urban artists, designers, musicians, film makers and other creatives known to be active in rural areas and, the equally significant contributions being made to the creative economy by rural tourism, rural heritage, rural foods (culinary arts) and beverage outlets, and other countryside recreational arts and sporting activities.
  • This contribution has been achieved without any of the strategic art and cultural investment or infrastructure provided by the previous Government for urban communities, urban creatives and in support of urban regeneration.

Source: Creative Rural Communities, (2011)

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