At the outset, it is important to know that this is not a political blog.
There has been quite a bit in the news about the problems of musicians, pop groups, opera singers, orchestras, sound and light engineers, roadies and the like, post-Brexit. Restrictions on travel with a 90-day limit of staying in the EU, visas and work permits for each EU country, requirements of details of musical instruments and equipment and their cost (for a whole orchestra!), etc, are all aspects of life in the UK that did not happen before the UK separated from the EU. The focus for many of these problems has been on those in the music industry.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Craft was concerned to hear stories about similar challenges for makers. A number of problems seem to have arisen for those who previously traded a lot with Europe. The unknown amount of additional tax and costs for those in the EU when buying craft from the UK causes difficulties when sometimes it seems that a considerable amount is added to the item which makes it prohibitively expensive. When items are returned as a result of this, makers may have to pay for their own work to be imported.
Craft pieces can be caught up in customs such that their arrival is delayed considerably. Exhibitions planned in the EU with UK artefacts have been delayed or even cancelled because of this. Many galleries and shops, previously showing or selling UK items, are not now exhibiting or stocking them because of this uncertainty. In addition, EU craft competitions are not accepting UK-made work because of the problems of delays in receiving items and the difficulties and cost of returning them to the UK. In one instance, the cost of receiving back an expensive item exhibited in the EU by a UK maker was too much for the maker so they said to destroy the work!
The problems are exacerbated when advice is sought from government websites and advisers. These are geared to lorryloads and containers full of goods and big companies, not makers asking for details with just one craft item to be exported. And this is repeated when makers want to take their work, tools and materials abroad themselves for craft fairs, workshops or demonstrations. There is considerable confusion and often the wrong advice is given, causing more problems.
One of the joys of being a maker is always passing on the skills, interacting with other makers and learning about new techniques, materials and tools. Due to customs and restrictions on travel, this has just about stopped.
There are many other aspects of craft and the EU post-Brexit that are causing difficulties. When the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Craft heard that there was going to be a debate on the Arts (and Crafts!) in the House of Lords and the challenges of post-Brexit were going to be considered, I sent out a message through every channel I could to ask for personal experiences. Over a four-week period in August (never the best month for makers) I had a number of responses, often interestingly long and detailed, and many of them sad and frustrating.
The responses have been condensed to bullet points and can be read Craft and Brexit points only.
Photos 1,2 and 4 taken at Fortnum and Masons in London when Heritage Crafts exhibited traditional crafts as part of London Craft Week.