1. Government responsibility for heritage crafts
It is recommended that the Government clarify the role of DCMS in supporting heritage crafts and other areas of intangible heritage, and make changes as necessary to ensure that they are supported through this department and its agencies. Heritage crafts currently fall in the gap between the Government agencies for arts and heritage, which focus respectively on contemporary crafts and tangible heritage (historic buildings, monuments and museum collections). Heritage craft is an important example of intangible heritage, the tacit knowledge, skills and practices that are an equally important part of our culture, and that require continued practise in order to survive.
2. Ratification of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
The UK should sign up to the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage to ensure that traditional craftsmanship, as well as other forms of intangible cultural heritage, are safeguarded for the future. At the time of writing, 177 countries have ratified the Convention, but the UK has not. Ratification of the Convention would recognise the breadth of the cultural heritage in the UK, and make inventorying of intangible cultural heritage a statutory requirement – and would therefore necessitate significant government funding for the type of research conducted for the preparation of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts.
3. Action to address the issues affecting the viability of heritage crafts
The future viability of many crafts, and not just those which are most critically endangered, is affected by the issues highlighted in Section 5. While the specific measures needed will vary according to the individual craft, action must be taken to address the broader issues of the sector, particularly relating to training, recruitment, an ageing skilled workforce and market challenges. This would protect and promote the UK’s craft heritage and help businesses and communities to grow.
4. Action to downgrade critically endangered crafts
It is recommended that further research is conducted into the critically endangered crafts through direct contact with practitioners to further understand the issues affecting them and to identify the specific requirements of each. Actions must then be taken to remove them from the critically endangered list. This will require different actions for each craft.
5. Monitoring and review of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts
It is recommended that the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts is monitored and a thorough review conducted every 2-3 years by repeating the research, and that funding be made available to do this. The list of crafts compiled for this report and their status (currently viable, endangered, critically endangered or extinct) is not fixed. Craftspeople, craft organisations, heritage professionals, funding bodies and members of the public must continue to be encouraged to contribute information about the crafts and a mechanism needs to be put in place to facilitate this – although it is recommended that an alternative system to the wiki is found.