As a former recipient of the Crafts Council ‘Setting Up Grant’, I was asked by the Crafts Council if I would host a studio visit for Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion. As I am in a group studio complex where there are currently 14 different creative practices ranging from metalwork, ceramics, textiles, to illustration and painting, it seemed a great opportunity to give breadth to such a visit through involving other Robertson Yard creatives.
As a Crafts Councils initiative, the studio visit was one of a series of national studio visits set up by the Crafts Council “to offer local politicians across parties the opportunity to understand more about craft and the creative businesses in their constituency. The Crafts Council is keen that those elected understand as much as possible about making and the needs of craft businesses!” (Crafts Council UK 2014).
Also attending the Robertson Yard Studio visit with Caroline Lucas was Rosy Greenlees, Executive Director of the Crafts Council, Jayne Tyler, Senior Relationship Manager, Visual Arts, Arts Council England, John McPherson, Relationship Manager, Visual Arts, Arts Council England, Matt Smith, a ceramicist representing CraftNet and Professor Bruce Brown, Brighton University and Crafts Council trustee.
Visitors were led around individual studios whilst engaging with some of Robertson Yard’s Artists in situ. Areas of discussion included the needs and challenges for small/individual practices at different stages of their careers, the importance of affordable and appropriate studio spaces – (Robertson Yard being one of these, one of the few in Brighton), practicalities of creative apprentice schemes, changes in local creative communities, and how to make space for critical discourse.
Thank you to those who volunteered their time, thoughts, commitment and support for the visit.