I came across this report from the BBC on the difficulties that crafts workers have when it comes to actually running their businesses and selling their work. Some larger luxury industry companies have been participating in a mentoring/apprenticeship scheme where crafts workers get advice on how to make a living while practicing the craft they love.
This is an issue little addressed in our own field. Young entrants into the craft are basically on their own to find mentorships or learn about the business side by working in shops. The lack of any real education on the financial/marketing side of our craft has serious consequences on the culture of the business. Bad habits are created and bad practices go unexamined. New makers and new shop workers can become discouraged and drop out of the craft altogether.
Here I must say that I have noticed an increase in lectures, specifically at the last few VSA conferences, on certain practical business issues such as the writing of insurance appraisals and on legal challenges for violin shops. This is an encouraging trend that must continue. I will also note that a few years ago the VSA announced a mentorship program, but as far as I know it has not actually come into being yet.
I also have noticed that other crafts related organizations here in the States do have better resources available to crafts workers than we seem to have in the violin making world. A simple google search shows a wide variety of programs for everything from metal and brick work, to furniture making and woodturning. The American Crafts Council, for example, has an amazing list of national and regional crafts organizations on it website. It’s a big world out there – maybe we should reach out to our fellow crafts workers in different fields more often?
Watch the video from the BBC here:
Read the article from the BBC:
The Walpole Crafted Initiative is the name of the program featured in the BBC report. You can read about them here:
American Crafts Council List: