TradeCraft: Co-creating an Interactive Viability Roadmap for Small Maker Enterprises

Lead Research Organisation: Manchester Metropolitan University
Department Name: School of Art


This project aims to create an interactive online tool to enhance the viability of small maker enterprises in the form of an Interactive Viability Roadmap. This tool will contribute the future viability of small maker enterprises through a personalised, design-based approach that provides tailored strategies for product development, process improvement and promotion effectiveness. The tool will assist enterprises in making decisions about future strategies that are in line with their values and priorities and also with the principles of sustainability. All the strategies suggested to an individual enterprise will be based on a) information supplied by the enterprise and b) successful 'real world' examples. The data visualised by this tool will also provide regional economic development and policy advisory organizations, such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Craft, with aggregate information about the values and priorities of small maker enterprises so that economic and other forms of support, and policy development decisions, can be better aligned with their needs.

In recent times, there has been renewed interest in the provenance of the products we consume. This ranges from the foods available in supermarkets to the ingredients of restaurant menus, and from local craft beers to handmade objects. The research base for this present project was tangible goods, but the concept can be extended to include other kinds of goods. Notwithstanding the renewed interest, however, the viability of enterprises that produce these kinds of goods is often precarious - as indicated by the UK's Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts and, at the international level, UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Programme, both of which aim to support these cultural practices and raise awareness of their importance and value. While the UK presently does not subscribe to the UNESCO ICH Programme, it has been enthusiastically embraced in China at the national, regional and municipal levels. We have also seen considerable work in this area in the USA. Hence, this is a global issue and the potential use and impact of the proposed Interactive Viability Roadmap is international.

Evidence demonstrates that there is a need for better understanding of how small maker enterprises can contribute to a vibrant creative economy through effective support that is respectful of their values and often has deep cultural roots. This project addresses this issue in two ways. First, it allows individual enterprises to adopt new strategies that are aligned with their declared values and priorities and with sustainable principles. Second, it enables regional economic development and policy advisory organizations to ensure that support and policy take into account the values and priorities prevalent among small maker enterprise owners, to ensure appropriate provision.

TradeCraft will generate benefits for enterprise owners and other stakeholders, including designers working in the field, Craft Council, Design Council, North West Craft Network, Heritage Crafts Association, and regional tourist organizations; regional economic development organizations such as Local Economic Partnerships; policy advisory groups such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Craft; and researchers working in this field. In addition, the work will be of interest to groups internationally, such as Craft-ACT, Australia, the International Folk Arts Museum, Santa Fe, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing.

The extent to which COVID-19 will have a long-term negative effect on the cultural industries and tourism is too early to say. However, whether planning for resumption or for entirely new ways of appreciating and ensuring the resilience of small maker enterprises, this Interactive Viability Roadmap will allow enterprises and economic development and policy advisory organizations to make better-informed decisions about appropriate strategies and support activities.
Description This is a current project so fundings are emerging. We have produced a comprehensive report for Located Making that has enabled us to refine the underpinning conceptual model that will inform the development of the TradeCraft interactive viability roadmap. Key finding include the relationship between values, place and enterprise operating models.
Exploitation Route There is a programme of planned engagement activities that will allow small maker enterprises and policy support agencies to access the interactive online tools that support the viability of makers and associated enterprises.
Sectors Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The findings from TradeCraft are informing practices in research contexts and are being used with postgraduate students to develop an understanding of how values and locale can us harnessed to enhance the longer term economic viability of craft makers and small maker enterprises. As this is ongoing research, there will be more demonstrable impact when the project has progressed.
First Year Of Impact 2003
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural