Eight more grants awarded to help save endangered crafts

Apprentice sailmaker Matt. Photo copyright Ratsey & Lapthorne.

An apprentice sail maker, boot tree maker and folding knife maker are among the recipients of the latest round of grants awarded to help safeguard some of the UK’s most endangered craft skills.

The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), which last year published the second edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, has awarded a further eight grants from its Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in July 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation.

This round of the HCA Endangered Crafts Fund has been offered with support from Allchurches Trust and The Radcliffe Trust. The eight successful recipients are:

  • Ratsey & Lapthorne – to train an apprentice sail maker to craftsman level while making sails for a historic yacht (Isle of Wight).
  • Horace Batten – to train an apprentice boot tree maker who will go on to work in-house at the boot making firm (Northamptonshire).
  • Michael May – to equip his folding knife making apprentice with the tools he needs to learn all aspects of the trade (Sheffield).
  • Justine Burgess – to train in Teifi and Tywi coracle making so that she can pass on the skills to others (Carmarthen).
  • Eve Eunson – to record the skills of Fair Isle straw back chair making in a film that can be used to train others (Shetland).
  • Coates Willow – to forge new tools for an apprentice working with one of the last practicing basketwork furniture makers (Somerset).
  • Tom Boulton – to do a feasibility study into creating new wooden type for letterpress printing using CNC machining (West Sussex).
  • Lorna Singleton – to buy a boiler and swiller’s mares (a special type of shave horse) to enable her to teach oak swill basket making to small groups (Cumbria).
Oak swill basket - Photo copyright Lorna Singleton copy

Oak swill basket. Photo copyright Lorna Singleton.

These eight projects follow five awarded in the previous round, covering the endangered crafts of scissor making, damask weaving, cockle basket making, neon bending and fan making. Again the fund was massively oversubscribed and the HCA hopes to work with many of the unsuccessful candidates to identify other funding and support opportunities.

HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis said:

“When we first published the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts the task of safeguarding so many at-risk skills seemed overwhelming. Thanks to the support of our donors and funders like Allchurches Trust and The Radcliffe Trust we now have thirteen projects underway, but there is still so much to do to ensure that future generations can continue to benefit from this important part of our culture.”

The Endangered Crafts Fund has been set up thanks to a number of generous donations from organisations including Allchurches Trust and The Radcliffe Trust, as well as individuals, who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds.

Paul Playford, who heads up the heritage grants programme at Allchurches Trust, said:

“It’s fascinating to see the wide range of endangered craftspeople and places that are represented in the latest Endangered Crafts Fund cohort, and we’re proud that our funding will help ensure that these at-risk crafts can be handed down, along with the tools and training needed to enable their protection in the longer term. We’re looking forward to hearing more from these skilled craftspeople as they develop their skills and hope to play our part in telling their story, raising awareness of ancient practices that are so important to preserve for future generations and hopefully inspiring others to follow their lead.”

The HCA has also announced that its President HRH The Prince of Wales has established a new award for endangered crafts. Each year the President’s Award for Endangered Crafts will present £3,000 to a heritage craftsperson who will use the funding to ensure that craft skills are passed on. The Award will be presented at a special reception at Dumfries House, home of The Prince’s Foundation, as well as at a prestigious winners’ reception at the Houses of Parliament. Applications are invited via www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/presidentsaward by Friday 1 May 2020.

The HCA continues to seek further donations to save even more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion. Donations are welcome at any time – for more information visit www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf. Applications for grants are accepted on a rolling basis, with the next deadline for consideration 30 September 2020.

Accessing financial support during COVID-19

Gerald Monaghan, blacksmith (photo by Philip Utton)

Gerald Monaghan, blacksmith (photo by Philip Utton)

The heritage crafts sector, which is predominantly made up of self-employed craftspeople and micro-businesses, is going to be particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, as retailers experience a drop in footfall and selling events are cancelled all around the country.

The guidance below is provided to let heritage crafts businesses know what help is available, and will be updated as things change. Please let us know if there is any support you are aware of not listed here and we will share the details.

We need to know what you would like us to focus on in our support and advocacy in the coming weeks. Please help us out by answering our short survey (should take no more then ten minutes).


Self-employed craftspeople

  • New on 26 March: Self-employed income support scheme – the Government will provide a taxable grant of 80% of a self-employed person’s earnings up to a maximum of £2,500 month, eligible for those with trading profits of up to £50,000 who make the majority of their income from self-employment. You do not need to prove coronavirus impact and you can keep working and still benefit from the scheme. Earnings are calculated as an average over the past three years and based on net profits, i.e. the amount you declared for tax after you’d taken off expenses but before you were taxed. People can apply directly to HMRC for the grant when the scheme is operational, using an online form, and the grant will be paid directly into their bank account. The scheme will run for three months in the first instance and be available ‘no later than June’, though it will be backdated to March.
  • Universal Credit for the self-employed – the minimum income floor for Universal Credit has been suspended. This means self-employed people out of work as a result of the COVID-19 can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees (£94.25 per week for up to 28 weeks). The money will be payable from day one instead of day four. In addition, the Universal Credit standard allowance and the Working Tax Credit basic element will both increase by £1,000 a year for the next 12 months.
  • Support for self-employed people paying tax – the next round of self-assessment payments on account (originally scheduled for 31 July 2020) have been deferred to January 2021. Additionally, all businesses and self-employed people in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.


Small craft businesses

The Chancellor has introduced a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • Coronavirus job retention scheme – companies and organisations will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover 80 per cent of the wages of people, up to £2,500 a month, who are not working due to the coronavirus. The grant will be backdated to 1 March and available from April. It will be open initially for three months.
  • Statutory sick pay relief package for small and medium sized enterprises – this means that, from the day after new regulations come into force, businesses will be refunded up to two weeks Statutory Sick Pay per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a note from their GP.
  • VAT deferral – the next quarter of VAT payments due from businesses have been deferred, meaning that no business will pay VAT from now to June, and they’ll have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
  • Business rates holiday – for small businesses in England that have retail premises, there will be a 12-month business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
  • Grants for rate-paying businesses – Small businesses that have retail premises with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 should receive grant funding of £25,000 to help meet their ongoing business costs. Small businesses that already receive Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief will be eligible for grant funding of £10,000. Enquiries about these grants should be directed to your local authority.
  • Business Interruption Loan Schemethis new scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch in late March to support small businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80 per cent on loans of up to £5 million in value. The first 12 months will be interest free, with payments covered by the government.
  • Support for businesses paying tax – all businesses and self-employed people in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.


Small craft businesses in Wales

The Welsh Government has published details of its £1.4 billion business support package to help businesses across Wales.  In addition, the Development Bank of Wales will be offering all its business customers a three-month capital repayment holiday.


Facebook Small Business Grants Program

Facebook will be offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to help up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. The company will begin taking applications in the coming weeks and you can sign up to receive more information when it becomes available.

HCA joins forces with the Michelangelo Foundation to bring the Red List to Europe

Launch of the partnership between the HCA and the Michelangelo FoundationThe Heritage Crafts Association is delighted to announce a partnership with the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship to bring the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts to a European level.

The new partnership launched with a presentation at Somerset House on 28 February 2020. Alberto Cavalli (Co-Executive Director of the Michelangelo Foundation) and Patricia Lovett MBE (Chair of Heritage Crafts Association) introduced the partnership, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Oliver Stratford (Editor-in-chief of Designo) exploring different perspectives regarding endangered crafts and their place in contemporary craftsmanship. The panel is composed of Daniel Carpenter (Red List Research Manager at the Heritage Crafts Association), Rosy Greenlees (Executive Director of the Crafts Council), Kate Hetherington (collar and harness maker) and Mark Webb (Fundraising and Development Manager at The Prince’s Foundation).

The partnership between the two organisations aims to build collective awareness of the threats facing traditional heritage craftsmanship and to seek new and innovative ways to usher endangered crafts safely into the future, ensuring the continuity of practices and the adaptation of crafts to meet contemporary demands.

Somerset HouseTo celebrate the partnership the Michelangelo Foundation commissioned three short films by Swiss film maker Thibault Vallotton that highlight three British singular talents who are pursuing crafts in the UK that are classified as endangered. The films give an intimate insight into the worlds of these treasured British artisanal talents who are striving to uphold their cherished skills.

The featured craftspeople were:

  • Kate Hetherington, collar and harness maker
  • Derek and Timothy Staines, orrery maker
  • David Adrian Smith MBE, reverse glass sign maker

One of the films is part of a new series, featuring 12 exceptional craftspeople from across all of Europe which will be unveiled in an exhibition entitled Singular Talents – The Red List at the second edition of Homo Faber, the crafts biennalé being held in Venice this autumn.  The specially commissioned films draw back the curtain on these master artisans and their unique or rare professions.

The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts provides a vital research methodology, identifying and classifying endangered crafts in the United Kingdom. It assesses the viability of such crafts and categorises those most at risk of disappearing. The Michelangelo Foundation, inspired by the grassroots-led bottom-up research methodology of the Heritage Crafts Association will enlist its wide network of European members to extend the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts to a European level.

By drawing on the expertise of organisations involved in their specific local communities, the Foundation hopes the initiative has a far-reaching impact, successfully identifying and classifying endangered crafts across Europe. In turn, this facilitates the mapping of European crafts considered to be at risk of disappearing.


The Sound of Craft at London Craft Week 2020

The Sound of Craft at London Craft Week 2020

The Sound of Craft postponement notice

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, we are sorry to announce the postponement of the HCA event ‘The Sound of Craft’, due to take place on Thursday 30 April 2020 as part of London Craft Week. We will announce the new date for this event in due course.

We very much regret having to postpone the event, and for the undoubted inconvenience this will cause to our guests and demonstrators, but we hope very much to see you at the rescheduled event.

If you have any further queries please email mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk.


The Sound of Craft at London Craft Week 2020

When: Postponed until further notice
Where: St Anne and St Agnes Church, Gresham St, London EC2V 7BX

Hosted in the stunning Wren church of St Anne and St Agnes, this event, by the Heritage Crafts Association as part of London Craft Week, will be a celebration of the craft behind some of the most beautiful sounds.

Most handmade musical instrument crafts are now classified as endangered on the Heritage Crafts Association Red List of Endangered Crafts, including flute making, piano making, brass instrument making, percussion instrument making, Northumbrian pipe making, woodwind instrument making and harp making.

This free drop-in event will include both demonstrations of the knowledge and skills behind these heritage crafts, and the music and performance itself.

‘Performing arts’ and ‘traditional craftsmanship’ are two of the five domains recognised by the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Intangible heritage includes the forms of culture that can be recorded but can’t be touched or stored in physical form, including song, music and skills, and can only be experienced through someone giving expression to them.

We still have some places available for demonstrators at this event. If you are interested please email Mary.

Trainee sought to help secure the endangered craft of boot tree making

Boot treeHorace Batten Bootmakers in Northamptonshire is currently seeking a trainee boot tree maker to help secure the future of its business, whilst at the same time safeguarding an endangered craft skill.

The making of lasts and trees (wooden formers around which shoes and boots are made and stored) has been listed as endangered on the Heritage Crafts Association’s groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, the second edition of which was published last year. The Red List is the first research of its kind to rank the UK’s traditional crafts by the likelihood that they will survive into the next generation.

Horace Batten Bootmakers has been making traditional riding and fashion boots since 1804. Its skilled workforce operates from a workshop in rural Northamptonshire, the home of quality boot and shoe making for centuries. This traineeship will provide a rare and unique opportunity for the successful candidate to learn from an expert in the field of wooden tree making, eventually taking on a bulk of this work for the company.

Applications are invited from people who aspire to a high level of skill in woodworking. Experience in last or model making and an understanding of shoe and boot making are also desirable. The trainee is required for an immediate start for three days per week, with a view to it becoming a full time position and lifelong career following successful training.

For more information about the traineeship, email HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis at mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk.

Download the press release