Crafting Culture Report

Report publication date: April 2013

How well are the crafts doing in the Netherlands in a comparison with other countries? Is it possible to learn from other countries?

This is the question that the Hoofdbedrijfschap Ambachten posed to us. And so we set to work to chart practices, policies, institutions and economies concerning the utilitarian crafts in China, India, Germany and Italy. Our objective was to draw lessons for the Dutch. Can the Dutch benefit from practices in these countries? Are there best practices that the Dutch can emulate.    

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We, the researchers, are a team of cultural economists at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The team consists of Priyatej Kotipalli (from India), Lili Jiang (from China), Dr. Anna Mignosa (from Italy), Prof. Dr. Kazuko Goto (from Japan) and Thora Fjeldsted (from Iceland) and is headed by Arjo Klamer, professor of cultural economics. We were fortunate to have such an international group of researchers, most of whom are from the countries that are included in our research.

Around the same time that het Hoofdbedrijfsschap Ambachten posed the question to us, we got an assignment from the “SGVB” to investigate the creative crafts in various countries. We were anticipating that the research into the utilitarian crafts would benefit from this research and vice versa. It did. 

The research has been an illuminating exercise. The territory is relatively unexplored and in our search for information and relevant literature we hit upon interesting research topics (such as definitonal issues, the importance of a craft culture for the creative economy, the ways in which such a culture comes about (can it be managed, or not?). The more we delved into the topic, the more convinced we got about the relevance.

We presented our findings at the international conference of cultural economics in Kyoto in June 2012. This report focuses on the utilitarian crafts, yet will include some of our findings concerning the creative crafts.