Digital Platforms for Craft in the UK and China

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Electronic Eng & Computer Science

Abstract

The Creative Economies are key growth drivers and economic sectors for both the UK and China. Digital platforms such as social networks, search engines, online marketplaces, and content distribution help to generate new products and services both online and offline. For those concerned with physical objects especially in the craft and visual arts sectors, digital platforms provide opportunities through the 4th industrial revolution where there is a blurring between physical and digital production. For example, digital platforms provide opportunities for innovation through using new materials and production techniques, they facilitate greater and closer access to markets and customers, and provide opportunities to include customers more in the design process. Digital platforms are therefore key to enabling growth in the Creative Economies in the UK and China. This is despite the fact that the UK and China have unique cultural heritages and traditions, different economic, social, and political profiles, and divergent digital infrastructure and regulations.

Digital platforms are inevitably implemented, used, and leveraged differently the UK and China. Firstly, there are deep rooted differences in culture and heritage between the UK and China which would affect conventions and methods of production and consumption in Creative Economies which would make different use of digital platforms to support them. Secondly, there are significant differences between countries' internet infrastructure and policies of use. For example, social media such as Twitter and Facebook are ubiquitous in the UK in contrast to Chinese social media platforms such as QQ and WeChat. Similarly, popular craft marketplaces such as those on taobao in China contrast with craft marketplaces such as NotOnTheHighStreet and etsy.com which are prevalent the UK. Thirdly, there are differences in different cultures' use of digital platforms such as social media which may be reflected in the use of digital platforms in the Creative Economy. Finally, there are differences in digital inclusion between urban and rural areas which are different in the UK and China and which would have an impact of the possible uses and uptake of digital platforms.

Whilst digital platforms are used across Creative Economy sectors there has to date been a concentration of research interest in those sectors which produce or consume digital content. For example, games, music, and media production sectors, which have included comparisons between the UK and Chinese sectors. However, the use of digital platforms in cultural domains which involve physical object production, consumption, and archival are not well researched despite the importance of craft as a driver of innovation in the Creative Economy and wider industries. The project will directly address this lack of research in the use and potential of digital platforms for craft sectors in the UK and China.

Planned Impact

Creative Economy represents 3.97% of economy (2015; [China Govt, 2016]), compared to 8.2% of UK's economy (2014; [UK Govt, 2016]) and 8.7% of the UK's exports of services (2013; [UK Govt, 2016]). This project will directly feed into the growth of these sectors by providing routes to better utilize digital platforms in the Creative Economies in China and the UK for creatives who are concerned with physical objects especially in the craft sector which has to date been largely ignored in terms of digital platform usage. It will provide case studies of how digital platforms can be used in the craft sector of Creative Economies, and what possible future uses of digital platforms might be.

The project will directly benefit people working in the craft sector through dissemination of best practice in how to use digital platforms in the craft sector to help them grow and sustain their craft businesses. This will directly help support growth of the Creative Economy in China and also the UK through targeted and localised case studies of uses of digital platforms. The web resources of case studies and digital platform guides will be supported in China for at least 3 years after the project is completed.

For policy-makers the project provides case studies of uses of digital platforms in Creative Economies which would help to inform development of government initiatives at local, regional, and national levels. Public sector agencies and bodies also benefit from the case studies and best practice which would them to shape their policies and also to directly shape future networks and communities of Creative Economies, especially in the craft sector. Professional and practitioner groups also benefit from inclusion in the project through stakeholder workshops thus expanding their national and international networks. They additionally benefit by being able to expose their members to the usage of digital platforms and informing future digital platform development which would directly benefit their members.

[UK Govt, 2016] UK Government report: "Creative Industries Economic Estimates - January 2016 - Key findings", Published 26 January 2016.
[China Govt, 2016] China Government report: "National Statistics Report 2015" - published 10 August 2016.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Crafts Council 
Organisation Crafts Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Keep in touch with Crafts Council to enquiry advice such as recruiting participants and promoting projects and gather the latest government policy about craft.
Collaborator Contribution Provide advice about recruiting participants and help promote the project's events.
Impact 1. Data about the current uses, challenges and opportunities of the digital platform for craft in the UK. 2. Promotion of the project 3. Advice about access makers
Start Year 2019
 
Description Cross cultural collaboration- Hunan University (China) 
Organisation Hunan University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Prof. Nick Bryan-Kinns (PI: Queen Mary University of London, UK; QMUL), Prof. Hao Tan (PI: Hunan University, China; HNU), and Dr. Zhengyu Tan (CoI: Hunan University, China; HNU) have worked extensively and lead the coordination together.
Collaborator Contribution As the project's primary partner, Hunan University's research team is responsible for collecting all the data in China, host the UK-China workshops and build the project's website.
Impact i) Research data including survey, interviews, researchers' immersion and workshops. ii) website
Start Year 2019
 
Description Host workshop- Cockpit Arts 
Organisation Cockpit Arts
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Provided makers of Cockpit Arts a chance to find out about how digital technologies are used and can create value in the craft sector, and how they might be used in the future.
Collaborator Contribution hosted and promoted the workshop- When Craft meets with Digital platforms.
Impact A workshop event and recruitment of participants
Start Year 2019
 
Description Data analysis workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A three-day synthesis workshop was held in China to bring the two data sets and research teams including researchers and postgraduate students from HNU physically together for intensive analysis and synthesis of the data. We have used the findings developed in project workpackages WP1, WP2, WP3, and WP4 (which itself compared findings of WP1, WP2, WP3) to generate insights and shared understandings between China and the UK on the uses, challenges, trends, and potential of digital platforms for crafts sectors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Digital Platforms Design Research for Craft in the UK and China 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact About 60 participants including craft makers, policymakers, professors, researchers and students, attended this Digital Platform for Craft conference. The conference contains presentations and a workshop, which sparked lots of discussion regarding the current uses, challenges and opportunities of the digital platform for craft in China.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description London Craft Week 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Researchers went to the London Craft Week to promote our project and recruit potential participants for our project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description MADE London Marylebone 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Researchers went to see the exhibition and met with craft makers to collect data and promote our project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description QMUL host British Council study visit (international delegation) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The British Council hosted a delegation of government ministers and policymakers from Egypt and Indonesia (about 16people) to visit Queen Mary University of London. QMUL network, our project's partner, invited us to present our project to the visitors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Researcher immersion- Visiting Textile artist Bridget Bailey(UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project's researcher has visited a textile artist (Bridget Bailey) to create an in-depth case study of the use of digital platforms in craft sectors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Researcher immersion-Visiting Maria Sigma (Woven textiles in the UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project's researcher has visited Maria Sigma's studio and interviewed two makers in woven textiles to create an in-depth case study of the use of digital platforms in craft sectors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Researcher immersion-visiting Hand & Lock embroidery (UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project's researcher has visited Hand & Lock , an embroidery studio with 250 years history, to create an in-depth case study of the use of digital platforms in craft sectors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Researcher immersion-visiting Tatty Devine(UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project's researcher has visited Tatty Devine, who is a handmade digital jewellery company of twenty years, to create an in-depth case study of the use of digital platforms in craft sectors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Researcher immersion-visiting ceramicist Elizabeth Renton(UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project's researcher has visited a ceramicist Elizabeth Renton to create an in-depth case study of the use of digital platforms in craft sectors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Researcher immersion-visiting teapot maker Jeremy Nichols(UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project's researcher has visited Jeremy Nichols in ceramics to create an in-depth case study of the use of digital platforms in craft sectors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description UK-China Creative Industries Showcase Reception 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact About 80 people including AHRC delegation and Chinese partners, the Innovate UK Audience of the Future delegation, a delegation from Universities UK International, Shanghai-based businesses and institutions working in the creative industries, Chinese domestic media to attend this reception. It aims to get people in similar sectors to meet and discuss one another's work, with a view to building stronger platforms for future collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://ahrc.ukri.org/newsevents/news/uk-china-creative-industries-workshop-and-showcase-reception/
 
Description Visit Farnham(UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Researchers visited Farnham Maltings and University for the Creative Arts to know professional practitioners' experience and understanding about digital platforms for craft.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Visit Tongguan Kiln Ceramics (China) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Researcher groups visited Tongguan Kiln Ceramics to identify the uses, challenges and opportunities of digital platforms for craft in rural China.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Visit Xiang embroidery (China) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact About 10 people including PIs, researchers, and postgraduates visited Xiang Embroidery company, which inspired lots of discussion regarding the current uses, challenges and opportunities of the digital platform for craft in China.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Visit Yiyang Xiaoyu Bamboo art (China) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Researchers visited Yiyang Xiaoyu Bamboo art to gather information about the uses, challenges and opportunities of digital platforms for craft in rural China.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description When Craft meets with Digital platforms 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project's team members, QMUL networks and postgraduates from QMUL have worked together to prepare and run the workshop. We have invited professional makers and researchers to share their craft work, have a group discussion about uses of digital platforms, brainstorming new uses of digital technologies in Cockpit Arts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019