The Executive Director's Cut: Spring 2014

The Executive Director's Cut: Spring 2014

Executive director Chris Amundsen

Executive director Chris Amundsen at the 2014 Atlanta American Craft Council Show wearing a brooch by Deb Karash and a vest by Randall Darwall and Brian Murphy.

Elizabeth Ryan

Last October, the American Craft Council partnered with the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design and crafthaus to hold a craft Think Tank to discuss and create a craft identity statement. ACC trustee Stoney Lamar, director of education Perry Price, and I attended along with 22 other craft professionals representing all aspects of the craft community to work on the brand of craft. Steffi Dotson, president of the Furniture Society, had this to say about the work:

“I was honored to be part of this select group of 25 people and spend three days helping develop a strategy to elevate awareness for and feelings toward craft in America. In my opinion, the gathering was successful on many levels, the most important being the union of such a diverse group of craftspeople rallying toward the mutual goal of a shared message on the subject. We didn’t dwell on the definition. In fact, we didn’t define craft at all. Instead, we collaborated on an identity that all craft organizations can use to speak to America on the subject. I left the meetings quite hopeful that these efforts will have long-term positive effects for the future of craft and am eager to witness results in the near future.”

At the end of our time together, a craft identity statement had been drafted and, after refinements, multiple organizations sent the statement along with a single survey out to all of our constituents to get feedback. The craft identity statement is:

Everybody makes a mark.

CRAFT IS CULTURE’S BRIDGE TO THE PAST AND THE FUTURE.

TOGETHER WE FORM A WORLD OF MAKERS, SHAPERS, AND COMPASSIONATE DISRUPTORS.

WE ARE CREATIVE MINDS AND THOUGHTFUL HANDS AT PLAY.

 

WE ARE

Open

Authentic

Involved

WE ARE ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE TO MAKERS AND EVERYONE WHO APPRECIATES CRAFT

WE DEMONSTRATE HONESTY AND INTEGRITY IN WHAT WE DO

WE INVITE DISCOVERY AND PARTICIPATION

 


Make a mark. Make it your own.

When it is all totaled, there will be more than 2,000 responses to the survey, with many thoughtful suggestions to improve the statement. ACC received the largest number of responses to the survey with more than 1,200 responses. As you can imagine, we got a full range of responses from “this is brilliant” to “this STINKS” and everything in between, but there was general consensus that the identity statement accurately reflects the field. Nearly 60 percent of respondents strongly agreed that the craft identity statement describes their view of contemporary craft, and almost two thirds said that the statement would motivate those who knew nothing about contemporary craft to find out more.

Survey respondents contributed thousands of comments attempting to capture the words that create craft’s identity to help guide us toward the best version of the statement. Below are a few sample comments:

  • Inspired by tradition, propelled by fearless creativity, proudly constructed by hand, and personally invested with heart
  • Crafts are a dynamic and powerful way to interpret and re-interpret artistically-designed every day and unique one-of-a-kind items that enrich our lives
  • Craft is the mark left by a creative mind and skilled hand
  • Craft is art in life. Craft is creative exploration coupled with technique and skill.

Once all the survey responses have been analyzed, there will be a group of Think Tank participants that will refine the identity statement based on the feedback. The refined statement will be discussed at a Think Tank being organized this fall.

Thank you to those of you who participated in the survey. If you did not get the survey, or if you have further thoughts on the craft identity statement, I welcome your ideas via email.