The impact of Covid-19 on the Heritage and Crafts sector

Two years on from the start of the pandemic, we are becoming used to the ‘new normal’, even if we are not necessarily at ease with it. As a long-standing funder and supporter of the Heritage and Crafts sector, we were aware that such organisations had been adversely affected by Covid-19. Wishing to know more about the sector’s specific needs, we contacted previous grantees in the summer of 2021 to find out how they had been affected and how we, as a Trust, could best respond.

What worked

The overall picture is mixed at best. Whilst government funding and the furlough scheme has undoubtedly been a lifeline for many, not all organisations were eligible, and in any event, such funding could never replace the income streams lost through sudden closure. Even once organisations were able to re-open, all have had reduced visitors or audiences, because of ongoing restrictions and/or limitations to ensure Covid-19 compliance.

Organisations were very grateful for flexibility regarding the use of funds, which enabled some projects to go ahead in a bespoke fashion. Whilst we did not change our funding criteria as such, in recognition of the huge challenges facing the sector, we made a grant to The Crafts Council to establish a Hardship Fund for Makers. This was specifically to help those craft makers who had lost more than 75% of their income and did not qualify for government support.

The future is digital

2020 was the year that the world discovered Zoom and the Heritage and Crafts sector was no different. For some organisations, such as The Creative Dimension Trust and Orchard Barn, moving online enabled them to expand their audiences and extend their activities in ways unimagined before the pandemic. However, for many Heritage and Crafts organisations, going digital was either not an option, due to the artisanal nature of their work, or could only ever be part of the solution.

Moving forward

As we head into 2022, and another winter of uncertainty and potential disruption, it seems that the only thing we can say with any confidence is that the future will be unpredictable…

Nevertheless, as a funder which has encouraged innovation and creativity in the arts for the past 50-plus years, we continue to seek out Heritage and Crafts projects which are shining a light on traditional skills as well as contemporary concepts that connect with a new generation.  We remain as committed to the sector as ever.

Future funding

If you are a Heritage or Crafts organisation seeking to undertake innovative work in the UK, we encourage you to look at our grants criteria. As one of the country’s oldest charities, we are focused on being here for the long term. It is our ambition that the Heritage and Crafts sector, with its incredible talent, passions, and skills, will be here for the long term too.