Heritage Crafts’ mission is to support and promote crafts as a fundamental part of our living heritage. As part of this mission and our continuous aspiration to improve as an organisation, we would like to make an honest and open statement about what heritage means to us. We don’t mean this as a finished statement, but as a starting point for a discussion.
We believe that the value of our craft heritage comes from the diversity of skills and traditions across all of our communities, wherever they originated and whenever they were brought here. We want everyone to feel included in Heritage Crafts and our work, no matter how long they have called this country home or what their background may be.
Our heritage is what we choose to take with us, from our complex (and at times difficult) past, into a future that we wish to realise. Through dialogue about craft we can learn from many traditions, acknowledge past and present injustice, and strive to create a future that is fairer and more equal. We don’t believe we can do that until we have come to terms with our past, and fully acknowledged the ways in which it continues to affect us today.
We recognise that throughout history British society has been full of inequalities, many of which continue to this day. Sometimes these are expressed as explicit prejudices, but often they are implicit, embedded in the structures of our institutions and public discourses in ways that disadvantage, disenfranchise and alienate people. We applaud efforts to bring to light discrimination and injustices, including those of the past that have implications today, and believe that more needs to be done to reveal and tackle them.
We don’t own the debate about how heritage is defined and we recognise that many people have been (and continue to be) excluded from the debate. Where we can, we want to use our position to give them a voice. We are not afraid to question the society within which we operate, or in turn be questioned and challenged by others, and be prepared to change.