In May, the latest update of the ‘Red list’ of Heritage Crafts at risk was published by the Heritage Crafts Association (HCA). The list has different categories, from extinct in the UK to critically endangered crafts (56 crafts, with 20 new in this category this year), endangered crafts (74 crafts) and currently viable crafts (110 crafts). The movement of crafts between the categories shows both some progress but also the areas of most concern.
This is the intangible cultural heritage of the country that our Museum also has as its mission to promote and help preserve, which we do through raising awareness, demonstrations throughout the year and the chance to learn a skill. We have worked alongside the HCA since their formation just over a decade ago in this aim. The last year has been a challenge for many people, including some of the craftspeople working on the crafts listed. Coiled straw basket making, mouth-blown sheet glass and wooden fish nets is three crafts that have just been added to the critically endangered list. Through our programming we continually seek new contacts, new ways of highlighting this work and bring it to a different and younger audience as well as show that for some people this is their career and one that various organisations support.
There are many traditional skills and crafts that now have few people with a working knowledge of them. During the Historic Life Weekend: Crafts at Risk, we will bring together a range of craftspeople who practice different skills and offer the opportunity to see many skills first hand, with displays and demonstrations of the tools and skills needed for different crafts. Many of the crafts will be those listed in the Heritage Craft Association’s Red List of Endangered Crafts.