Art & Design

Mar 2, 2012

We love getting crafty, but there’s no money in the kitty

Craft practice is exploding in Australia. So why is the Australia Council defunding Australia's national craft body?

Ben Eltham — <em>Crikey</em> arts commentator

Ben Eltham

Crikey arts commentator

On February 21, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a new data set on the cultural participation habits of ordinary Australians. It’s a fascinating snapshot into our cultural and artistic hobbies and pastimes.

According to the ABS, more than 4.7 million of us participated in at least one cultural activity in the 12 months before the bureau interviewed them, during 2010-11. More than a million participated in three or more activities.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

9 thoughts on “We love getting crafty, but there’s no money in the kitty

  1. (the other) HR Nicholls

    Never mind, there’s still plenty of money for fatcat art.

  2. Malcolm Street

    Honest (possibly dumb) question. If craft is considered to be a *cultural* pursuit, then what about other building hobbies, eg model aircraft, model railways, building/modifiying plastic kits? As far as I am aware none of these receives Australia Council funding. So what’s so special about craft?

  3. east jack

    LOL Sorry but can’t say I care at all about a body called Craft Australia losing funding to supposedly “advocate for craft”. Why does it need “advocacy”? I’m more surprised they ever got funding in the first place given how tough it is for vital non-profits out there to get enough guvvie support. I had a bit of a look at their website and read their “goals” – which seemed about as vague as you can possibly get. Looks like they cater for professional craft people more than anything. Seriously, “advocacy”? How long they been running that line? And who DID get the funding instead? Surely that’s the more important issue. But interesting stats nonetheless.

  4. Liz A

    As a long time crafter (and some time teacher) of the paper craft variety, I can honestly say that Craft Australia really offers nothing to the average Aussie wanting to do craft. East Jack is completely correct in pointing out that it is for people who want to do craft to make a living.

    And yet even the professional crafters in my hobby field who supplement their income with teaching have never received grants or any kind of assistance from Craft Australia. They make their money on Etsy with pieces and products, and by teaching in the States. If you can get onto a design team with a reputable supplies company, the lifestyle can be quite rewarding.

    In all seriousness, if the Australian Government wanted to do something in the paper arena, they would look at small business assistance for the quickly declining number of stores in Australia that sell these products (usually under the moniker of scrapbooking, though the better ones do a lot more than that) and undertaking to assist with getting some Australian products on to the US market… there is only 1 Australian company even making these products and selling into the US, and its in Geelong!

  5. LJG..............

    Have to say I’m with East Jack on this one – and craft is about the only hobby I participate in. It’s a bit like some of the Health charities that just “raise awareness” and stop there.

  6. John64

    I want free money for doing things that I do for fun. To which Government Department do I complain?

  7. David More

    So easy to be hard, but it’s hard to be easy…

  8. Moving to Paraguay

    Craft, like photography and water colour painting, is an art form with a strong popular base. I’m sure the popular pursuit of craft will continue without government support for a representative organisation.

    However, craft is a serious dimension of our culture. It is our capacity to use skills handed down through generations to make things from the materials around us. As far as I know, all major countries of the world have a national crafts council. Australia risks going further down the road of a passive consumer nation with the loss of a national focus on its craft capacity. This is particularly important in dialogue with the Asian region, where craft is seen as a key to national identity.

    It has been part of the function of government to protect its treasury of knowledge through institutions like libraries, universities, museums and archives. Craft is a living heritage that depends on the active exercise of skills to stay alive, just like languages.

    I think government is well justified in supporting this as a part of our national interest.

  9. laura ingalls

    What Moving to Paraguay said. Absolutely.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details