Let’s put the glamour back into craft

,  20 October 2015

From luxury retail to performing arts and film, craft skills are at the heart of a booming creative sector that is hungry for new talent. It’s time for employers to improve the perception of craft skills among young people.

Margot Fonteyn’s tutu from the 1958 production of 'The Firebird'. Image: (c) Alan Williams Photography
Margot Fonteyn’s tutu from the 1958 production of 'The Firebird'. Image: (c) Alan Williams Photography

When I talk to colleagues in successful industries like luxury retail, performing arts and film, a theme keeps cropping up: the challenge to recruit for craft roles.

We wonder whether part of the issue is that these specialist roles are not understood and are often wrongly seen as ancillary and unglamorous.

It seems that jobs which involve making – from sewing to construction – are seen as old-fashioned traditional trades, and not the fun, inspiring and impressive creative skills that are in huge demand globally.

Putting craft skills in the spotlight

So what can we do about this? We need to get behind employers and encourage them to put these fabulous jobs in the spotlight!

It’s time to bring our brilliant craft skills out of the shadows.

Lets celebrate our world-famous specialist making, and connect craft skills back into the heart of creative sector so young people can see for themselves how core they are to this industry. 

Around the world creative industry craft skills are the epitome of cool. Young people rarely have the opportunity to engage with these specialist roles, so its no wonder employers are finding it harder to recruit. It’s time to bring our brilliant craft skills out of the shadows.

New costume centre is developing talent

A new costume centre in Thurrock's High House Production Park is an example of what can be done to ensure craft skills are nurtured, helping young people see associated roles for the fabulous careers they are.

Costume heritage, contemporary costume making and talent development happens under one roof.

Costume heritage, contemporary costume making and talent development happens under one roof in the elegantly designed Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre.

This is where the Royal Opera House now houses its working wardrobe, a to-die-for historic costume collection (think Margot Fonteyn’s tutus) and state-of-the-art ateliers for its own costume makers and for a lucky cohort of trainees. 

The clever folk at the Royal Opera House, South Essex College and University of the Arts London have devised a unique practice-based degree course in Costume Construction that takes place in the completely inspiring (not to mention very glamorous) surroundings of the costume centre.

Do you know someone who has shown an outstanding commitment to training up the next generation of craft talent? Nominate them for a Craft Skills Award.


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