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Articles - 1 December 2005

Craft Australia goes surfing

Image of Catrina Vignando, Ceneral Manager, Craft Australia

The end of the year is here again and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you as readers and contributors to 716 craft·design for making it the vibrant online news that it has become. As we ride the crest of the wave of a dynamic year of 2005 activities, it is a good opportunity to look back on what has been achieved by Craft Australia in the past 12 months.

We started the year with the launch of the Interact publication, a hard copy of the online forum Interact Contemporary Craft in a digital future developed in 2004. The publication and teachers' notes are available on the Craft Australia website. Significantly, we finished the year with another major project, the launch of Craft Galleries Online. This is an online activity designed to attract new audiences to commercial and non commercial galleries dealing in Australian contemporary craft and design. The launch was held in Canberra to coincide with the opening of the Transformations exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia and was attended by many international guests who were visiting at the time including collectors from the Mint Museum of Craft and Design in USA.

As advocates for the sector, both these programs were very successful in raising the profile of Australian craft and design. The Craft Australia online news is a major vehicle for presenting the achievements of the sector to broad audiences. This year, in response to the demand for more stories and the increase in readership, the online news underwent a name change and is now in its fourth issue as 716 craft·design. The online news will continue in this style in 2006 bringing you more stories and news from across the sector. We have commissioned many stories over the year on Australian craft and design in our role as advocates to promote the sector. These stories have been picked up by main stream media and identify the broad interest in contemporary craft and design. Next year Craft Australia will be writing a regular feature for Arts Hub on contemporary craft and design activities, broadening the interest for the sector further.

A further development this year was the redesign of the archive of articles that includes stories featured in the online news for the past 2 years. The archive now contains articles in easy to find subject headings such as exhibition and book reviews, speeches, conference papers, reports interviews to name but a few. The archive and search function is ideal if you are looking back for stories, referencing information or doing research. A personal highlight is the catalogue essays section that includes essays from catalogues of exhibitions that have been featured in the online news. As a self-confessed exhibition junkie, this is almost as good as having seen the show.

In 2005 Craft Australia has been active in lobbying for the rights of artists and the needs of the craft design sector particularly. Areas of focus have been the need for greater access to export markets, in response to which the Craft Export Advisory Group has been established to address these issues. Craft Australia has been active in the creative industries agenda to ensure that craft and design are considered as vital players in this equation. A response to the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) Working Group Inquiry into The Role of Creativity in the Innovation Economy was submitted by Craft Australia. The outcome of this inquiry will be known early in the year.

Craft Australia has contributed to issues in relation to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and the restructure of the Australia Council. Most recently the sedition clause in the anti terrorism legislation have been a major focus for the arts. Details of the actions taken, submissions presented and general background on what these issues are all about can be found on the Craft Australia website as can background material on all the lobby activities undertaken by Craft Australia.

In looking forward to next year Craft Australia has been finalising its strategic plan which outlines new directions for the organisation for 2006 till 2008. This strategic plan enables Craft Australia to secure additional Visual Art Craft Strategy (VACS) funding made available to the arts sector as a result of the Myer inquiry. It enables Craft Australia to continue its key roles of advocacy for the sector, communication to promote the achievements of the industry and research to identify the best opportunities and lobby decisions makers accordingly.

In developing this plan it has been helpful to summaries the activities of the organisation over the past 12 months and assess what we have achieved. In summarising, it has been a productive year with many opportunities and as we close for our annual break, we know there are many more to unfold.

Craft Australia will be closing on 21 December and returning on 9 January 2006. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the staff at Craft Australia I wish you all a festive season, restful holidays and a Happy New Year.

Catrina Vignando
General Manager
December 2005