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MARCH/APRIL 1980

NEWSLETTER

LTD. Thomas Prior House, Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 Telephone 01 680764

Craftsmen Shocked by VAT Increase The 1980 Budget increase in VAT on the general category band from 20% to 25% has shocked craftsmen throughout the country. The general implication that this tax category includes such products as furniture, domestic appliances, hardware and other industrially produced and often imported goods, and hence is a justified tax on spending, forgets that this tax also applies to crafts. While industrial products can stand the extra 5 per cent, which will be paid because some of them may be regarded as necessities or manufacturers may make compensatory adjustments, the products of the crafts sector are much more sensitive to extra retail costs. Certainly, no craftsman can hope to make a price adjustment to compensate for the 5 per cent. The craftsman gets little enough of the retail price anyway and, when compared with the full retail price plus VAT, what the craftsman can take as a reasonable margin is very small indeed. The major problem is that the products of the craftsman are not necessities: they are in the general area of gifts, or purchases of a non-essential nature. They are bought because of their intrinsic craftsmanship and design, because they are different and distinctive, and it thus becomes more difficult to justify their price in terms of economic stricture. In such a case, the customer does not consider taking into account those indefinable values and tends to make judgements on more practical terms. This is even more true of the major customer, the tourist. This year, with every other cost of the holiday rising, the disposable money for gifts will be tight and the value of every purchase examined closely.

With products which are in themselves good value, an added 25% does make good value look a bit poorer. Many tourists will compare Irish values for value at home where the VAT is much lower. The craft sector is the smallest and most vulnerable part of the small industry field. It is the one with great potential. It is the area in which growth can be achieved at little cost to the State and in which the Crafts Council of Ireland has been encouraging growth, through such activities as the National Crafts Trade Fair and more flexible attitudes to grants. The Crafts Council has made an official approach to the Minister of State in whose area of responsibility it lies, making certain recommendations and suggestions as to how the crafts sector might be given relief or special consideration. The possibility of any reduction from 20% is remote. But other possibilities remain which might—if they can be acted upon—reduce the effect. The craft sector is small in terms of voting power, so does not carry the wallop that the farmers or the trades unionists can. The flood of cheap imports of crafts, or semi-crafts, from cheap labour countries is a drain on the economy. Our overall import bill is already too high. Our craftsmen can produce all that is required of good quality crafts if they can be encouraged to do so. A five per cent price rise to the potential customer for crafts is no encouragement.

New Chairman for Crafts Council Miss Blanaid Reddin was elected Chairman of Crafts Council of Ireland after the Annual General Meeting on 22 April. In her role as Product Adviser of Bord Failte's Visitor Purchases Section, Miss Reddin is known to craftsmen and craft shops all over Ireland. She has been a member of the Management Committee of the Council and of various sub-committees from its incorporation in 1976 and has played a significant part in the development of the crafts sector in Ireland.


Exports There was a strong appeal at the National Crafts Trade Fair this year, from a wide spectrum of exhibitors, for the invitation of more export buyers next year. While there was a certain amount of solid business sense in this, there were also those who may have signed the paper from a certain degree of emotion or, . possibly, ignorance of the implications. For a small business, and especially for an individual craftsman with a relatively limited production capacity, exporting can be a hazardous pursuit. One must carefully ask whether one cries for more foreign buyers because one is making only a small impression on the home market, or because one has capacity beyond the capability of the home market to absorb it. If the latter is the case, then the appeal is probably sound, especially if one has already a certain export market and is familiar with the problems and paperwork involved. In the former case, however, one should be cautious of hoping that the export buyer is going to bail one out. Why, one should ask, is the home market not sufficient? Why is one not in every possible outlet? Could it be an unsuitable product? Could it be lack of selling ability?

Donegal Blacksmith for German Exhibition

Prize Fund Doubled for RDS Crafts Competition

Anthony Hedgecock, the Donegal-based craftsman in forged iron, has had three of his works accepted for the presigious European Wrought Iron Exhibition in Munich this summer, organised by the Fachverband Metall Bayern. This is a major distinction for an Irish craftsman and in addition he has been invited to take part in the seminar of international participants related to the opening of the Exhibition.

Details of the Royal Dublin Society Crafts Competition 1980 have been announced. The Competition will be open to all craftworkers and designers in Ireland, including students and apprentices.

Anthony Hedgecock has undertaken many important commissions in this country as well as being a First Prize winner at the 1979 Royal Dublin Society National Crafts Competition. The award winning work is being exhibited in Munich. In the coming Autumn, he has been especially invited to be one of the contributing participants in the international seminar on Forged Iron being organised by the Crafts Council in the UK. These distinctions point to the fact that Anthony Hedgecock is one of the leading craftsmen in the country and not the only one whose reputation is more recognised internationally than here at home.

There is no great problem in arranging for more foreign buyers to attend a trade fair. The problem is to ensure that the exhibitors can be matched to the market, and that the Crafts Council does not do a disservice to many small exhibitors who may be carried away by the excitement of getting an export order without realising the implications. Far better that some exhibitors realise their limitations and refuse, than to accept and make life difficult for themselves and also for their fellow craftsmen who may get tarred with the same brush of falling down on delivery.

First Prize Second Prize Third Prize

£100 £ 50 £ 25

Further awards for work of outstanding merit will be: the £500 Scholarship or Development Grant; the Crafts Council of Ireland Medal, and the California Gold Medal, together with the Royal. Dublin Society Certificates. The Competition will include the following classes: embroidery; stained glass; enamelling; lace; ceramics; rod and rush work; fabric printing; wood­ work; weaving; rug making; batik; basketry; jewellery; macrame; tapestry; pottery; straw work; musical instruments. The closing date for receiving entries will be Friday 11 July 1980. All prize-winning works and other items of good standard will be exhibited at the Royal Dublin Society's Arts and Crafts Stand in the Industries Hall during the Dublin Horse Show which will take place from Tuesday 5th to Saturday 9th August 1980, inclusive.

In other words, is the relative failure to move products on the home market the fault of the craftsman or the fault of the market? It can often be the former and, if so, can be a disastrous recipe for export success. One has to have immense confidence in one's product; one's ability to cope with the paperwork; one's clear business sense which enables one to judge whether the order for export is merely a fill-in, oneoff, or the beginning of a long business relationship; and a knowledge of one's capability to price, pack and deliver to order.

This year the Society has doubled the prize fund. Consequently, the awards in each class will be as follows:

There is one further aspect—that of payment. Here again, the experienced will know what to do, but the inexperienced may have difficulty in getting paid—not necessarily that the foreign buyer is a bad payer, but because the performance may not be up to standard and the buyer can refuse payment until everything is satisfactory. An experienced exporter can, to a certain extent, dictate terms; the small and inexperienced one may not find it so easy and one cannot exactly blame the buyers if they, too, are cautious. It should not be forgotten that the home market still requires more good quality crafts. When it begins to head towards saturation, then is the time to turn to exports. In the meantime, a careful assessment of all the factors is necessary and equally carefully thought-out action in relation to the exhibitors' appeal.

Details and entry forms are available from: Betty Searson, Arts Administrator, Royal Dublin Society, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Telephone 680645, extension 312.

New RTE"Hands'Series So successful was the original series devised by David Shaw-Smith—and he has been aided by the Crafts Council of Ireland in identifying a number of the crafts shown—that this third series is now in the schedules and will be equally satisfactory. Further work is planned. The present series includes John Surlis, the famous craftsman chair maker, producing a Leitrim chair; Carley's Bridge Pottery; Donegal Tweed; hand­ made candles; reproduction furniture, and silver chasing.


Thousands Visit London Exhibition Crafts Council's contribution to the London Festival "A Sense of Ireland," the exhibition Weaving—The Irish Inheritance, which closed on 29 March, was seen by close on 10,000 people. At an average of between 1 50 and 200 people a day visiting their gallery, the Crafts Council of England and Wales considered this to be an attendance record and well above what they would normally expect at an exhibition in the months of February and March, usually a slack period. The exhibition is now packed for return to Ireland and sponsorship is being sought to show it at at least some centres here. Exhibitions of this nature are, unfortunately, expensive to transport and mount so that the exposure in Ireland will be limited by the sponsorship funds which may be available.

Crafts Council Award for Stoneware Jackson For the second year in succession, the Crafts CouncH of Ireland award for the best stand at the National Crafts Trade Fair went to Michael Stoneware Jackson. The judgement was on the basis of the excellence of treatment of the stand space itself, as well as on the overall quality of the promotional and other material relevant to trade fair participation. Exhibitors are inclined to forget that this latter aspect is very important for, no matter how well the stand may be dressed and the products displayed, the clear, well-produced price list and general information are essential for a busy buyer. Buyers do not merely buy a product, they are also buying—and depending very much on—service. The more secure buyers feel in this respect, the more inclined they are to buy from a particular craftsman—and keep on buying. So the early impression given by good promotional material is important. Of course, the craftsman must live up to the impression. The National Crafts Trade Fair is becoming a more professional fair each year and doing bigger business as a result.

Padraig O Mathiina, the Cashel silversmith, has had six works accepted for "Europaische Silber," the sixth triennial exhibition of the organisation of German goldsmiths. Shown here are (above) Tri De Dana, a 1600g silver bowl, 22.3 cm tall; and (below) a wine goblet (gold plated interior) of 925g and 9 cm tall, the foot of which is made by direct sculpture.


Good Year. Bad Year

Crafts Council Travel ling Exhibition Conditions of Loan

There is an air of caution abroad in regard to this coming season for the tourist industry ,and, by the same token, for the craftsmen.

The Crafts Council of Ireland is willing to loan its current Travelling Exhibition to a host organisation which can fulfil the following conditions:

Costs all along the line have risen: inflation is running at certainly 15 per cent; fuel bills will increase transport, catering and other holidays costs. So the tourist is going to have to be given every encouragement to come to Irelandencouraged away from the air package to the sun, for instance. Many of our tourists are fortunately not in the sunworship category and there is no doubt that Bord Failte will be making their usual tremendous effort to attract every tourist possible. While they may, indeed, be successful in terms of actually getting the tourist on Irish soil, what they cannot do so easily is to ensure that the tourist buys—and buys the right things. Crafts, of course! The 20 per cent VAT does not help—nor will the 25 per cent if it comes to that.

1. The host organisation agrees to provide, for an agreed period, a mutually suitable venue consisting of adequate space of the order of 20' x 30', in good decorative condition with sound floors, adequate overall lighting and power sources, good cloakroom/toilet facilities.

Two things, it seems, need to be given attention. The first is to ensure that every tourist knows about every craft shop and that the products of the craftsmen are well displayed to their best advantage. This is an area in which there is a lot of expertise and Blanaid Reddin of Bord Failte Visitor Purchases Section will be providing every encour­ agement to shops to do so.

4. The host organisation will provide the necessary adult manpower to staff the exhibition adequately at all times when it is open to the public and will be res­ ponsible for the care, cleanliness and security of the exhibition and exhibits while in its charge.

The second is to ensure that craft products are not aimed just at the foreign tourist but also at our own tourists holidaying at home. The local community also should be given every encourage­ ment. One thing is certain and that is that Irish crafts must be clearly marked as such and the many cheap imported crafts which, often through ignorance, are lumped in with our own and bought by the unsus­ pecting, must be countered. They will have a price advantage, but not a quality one—that is, if every craftsman gives all the attention to detail and fine workman­ ship that is possible; not only that, but attention to delivery to ensure that no craftshop is even a day without products. A product not on the shelves cannot be sold. A product late delived cannot always be quickly replaced by an alter­ native. It is necessary to mount this effort this year if it is to be a good year. Last year, through circumstances of postal strikes and petrol shortages, was a bad one. This year, barring these disasters, it will be in the craft sector's hands to ensure success.

2. The host organisation agrees to be responsible for all charges from the time of delivery of the exhibition to the point of return transport, including the hire of the hall, staff, lighting costs etc. 3. The host organisation will provide the necessary manpower assistance to unload, mount and load the exhibition.

5. The host organisation will provide the necessary local prepublicity, be respon­ sible for the erection and removal of direction signs to indicate the venue, press reception or official opening costs

for which local sponsorship should be sought, ash trays, waste baskets and general arrangements. 6. Crafts Council will provide the exhibition which will consist of chosen craft objects of the highest commercial standard of craftsmanship in a variety of disciplines. 7. Crafts Council will provide all the necessary equipment to mount the exhibition. 8. Crafts Council will provide the necessary mounting instructions, captions and title materials. 9. Crafts Council will provide the necessary transport to and from the venue. 10. Crafts Council will effect the necessary public liability and exhibition insurance coverage. 11. No Exhibits, nor printed material, other than those provided and/or approved in advance by the Crafts Council will be permitted at the venue during the period of the exhibition. 12. Application must be made three months in advance and the official application form completed.

A S e n s e of Excel lence Some of the exhibits which were in the Crafts Council's Travelling Exhibition last year are featured in a short sequence in the programme Sense of Excellence which was shown on RTE Television in late April. This programme, which was hosted by former Industry and Commerce Minister, Justin Keating, looked at excellence in a wide context— not merely products but design and place. The short sequence was filmed in the Crafts Council's office, using some of the material which had been shown in the Travelling Exhibition and particular camera attention is given to works by

Brian Clarke, Desmond Taaffe, Paul Godfrey, Judith Lockhart, Bernadette Madden, Alice Roden, Michelle Hughes and Geoffrey Healy. Other examples of excellence in craftsmanship are treated in more general fashion. While the sequence itself is short, never­ theless it is important that craftsman­ ship should be featured as it is a fundamental part of our sense of excellence and should be so regarded by the viewers.


Annual General Meeting The Annual General Meeting of the Crafts Countil of Ireland was held in Jury's Hotel, Limerick on 22 April. It was, as is often the case with annual general meetings, poorly attended by the general membership. In particular, it was a pity that more ordinary members of the various associations in counties close to Limerick did not attend, for it was largely to facilitate attendance of association members that this first annual general meeting to be held outside Dublin was organised. It is possible that the associations may not have advised their members that they could, and, indeed should, attend despite the fact that only the representative could vote. It would have made for a more wide-ranging discussion, particularly relative to those problems directly related to craftsmen over experiences.

A group of Management Committee members at the Manus Walsh craft shop.

The six vacancies on the Management Committee were hardly competed for, with only three nominations outside the six members seeking re-election. The ballot resulted in the incumbents being returned. At a Mangement Committee meeting subsequent to the Annual General Meeting, Miss Reddin was elected Chairman and the Honorary Officers elected were as follows: Vice ChairmanMr T. Maher; Honorary SecretaryMiss B. Searson; and Honorary Treasurer— Miss M. Coleman. The holding of the Annual General Meeting in Liemrick enabled members of the Management Committee to visit a number of Clare craftsmen in their studios, to see their operation at basic level and be more aware of some pf the problems and anxieties with which craftsmen have to content. It was not possible even with a well-organised tour, thanks to Clare Craftworkers Association, to cover more than a few of the many studios possible. Those visited were the Rineanna Pottery of Max Halliday; the studios of Ballycar Design, Susan Erridge, Polycrafts and Shannon Display Products, and Paul Bryant at the SFADCO promoted workshop complex at Ballycasey House; potter Marie Hannon, basket maker Paddy Moran and candlemaker Pat Donnellan at Bunratty Folk Park; KAM Knitwear and Kilshanney Leather at Ennistymon; the workshop of woodturner Pat O:Brien; the workshop and craft shop of Manus Walsh; and the new craft shop at Ail wee Cave.

Mr J Murphy, leather craftsman Mai Whyte and Miss A O'Brien at Kilshanny Leathers

Miss B Reddin, Chairman/Crafts Council, Mr TSheedy of Bunratty Folk Park and Mr Manus Walsh at the latter's studio.

Mr Pat O'Brien, woodturner, talking with the Crafts Council Executive Officer, Mr E F Sutton.


CLARE CRAFTWORKERS ASSOCIATION

CRAFT POTTERS SOCIETY OF IRELAND EXHIBITION

BASKET AND RUSHWORK COURSES IN COUNTY CLARE

On 5th and 6th March, the Fifth Annual Spring Fair organised by the Clare Craft­ workers Association was held at Bunratty Folk Park. Buyers from craft shops along the west coasts and others from further afield were ainvited. The intention behind such regional trade fairs is to ensure that those craftsmen and small craft businesses which would not, for various reasons, be exhibitors at the National Crafts Trade Fair, would have an opportunity to meet with buyers, particularly regional buyers.

Mrs Rita Childers, wife of the late President, opened the very successful exhibition mounted by the Craft Potters Society of Ireland at the P J Carroll & Co theatre, Grand Parade, Dublin, on 16 April.

The Clare Craftworkers Association is planning two training courses, each of two weeks duration, one in rushwork, the other in hedgerow basketry, to run simultaneously at Bunratty Folk Park next November. The first aim is to establish (or, in the case of basketry, re-establish) these crafts in the area and, in so doing, the Association can offer places on these courses to serious craftsmen or would-be craftsmen from other areas as well. In addition to seeking the best course tutors available, the Association is exploring a wide range of associated subjects from folklore to horticulture in order to offer not only ten days tuition in the subjects but a supporting programme of exhibitions, lectures and activities as well. A compre­ hensive fee will be charged to cover all these and individual events will also be open, at a fee, to the general public.

There is a need for regional fairs, as many of the products of the smaller craft enterprises in a region are not necessarily of national character nor, indeed, should they be, especially if they have a particular regional significance and are distinctive to or traditionally associated with a district. In such cases, the overall region's craft shops should be the main stockists, as it is in these products that a visitor to a region will show the most interest. It is in the discovery and development of such regional product characteristics that many of the associations of crafts­ men can play a part. The Crafts Council has a role in this also to ensure that buyers appreciate the significance of what is being provided as a service to them.

DONEGAL CRAFTWORKERS ASSOCIATION The now annual Craft Display was held in Ballyraine Hotel, Letterkenny in early March. Twenty exhibitors took part. Mr Leonard Roarty, the County Development Officer, who was a prime mover with the Crafts Council in getting the Association started, commented at the opening that annual trade fairs such as this are essential: they provide the craft workers with the setting in which to show their range of products for the coming season to buyers. Donegal, in particular, is a difficult county geographically for craftsmen to have ready access to buyers, or for buyers to seek out the various craftsmen. While some craftsmen from Donegal exhibit at the National Crafts Trade Fair, they also take part in their own fair, thus covering both the national and the regional market.

The high standard of work on show was the result of careful selection and not only contributed to indicate the skill of the Society's members but to the making of a professional exhibition. It is interesting to see what can be achieved by a member society of the Council which is organised on a single discipline basis, and this is the first exhibition mounted by such a society member organisation. The absence of conflicting crafts and having to give space to a wide variety of different work has made for an impact which is important to those taking part. The location has possibly meant that the general public has not had the chance to drop in casually and be directly affected. Centre city gallery locations are few and costs are high and companys such as Carrolls and the Bank of Ireland are playing an important part in allowing their exhibition facilities to be used; but the price is the loss of exposure to the general public whose visual appreciation is so requiring education. COUNTY GALWAY ASSOCIATION OF CRAFTWORKERS The fifth Trade Show organised by the County Galway Association of Craft­ workers and held in the Odean Hotel in Galway, was opened on 3 March by the Mayor of Galway. The Mayor stressed, in his opening speech, the fact that tourists were always interested in products made in the area they were visiting, and that regional fairs such as this afforded craft shop buyers the opportunity to stock products per­ taining to their region.

MAYO CRAFTS ASSOCIATION The latest activity of this Association is the organisation of a collection of crafts produced in County Mayo. This will not only include work of members of the Association but also other work of a high standard, as it is hoped to collect the basis of an exhibition.

Numbers of students on each course will be limited. Further details will be available from: The Secretary of the Rush and Basketwork sub-Committee, Miss Michele Hughes, Bally car Design, Station House, Ballycar, Newmarket-onFergus, Co Clare. Telephone 061 71343.

STROKESTOWN CRAFT CENTRE This Craft Centre, which is located on a site owned previously by Slieve Bawn Cooperative Handcraft Market, is expected to be completed in July of this year. There will be seven workshops in units of 500 and 1,000 square feet. The IDA are the promoters of the enter­ prise and, when completed, the centre itself and Slieve Bawn Cooperative will cater together for a wide spectrum of craft production, from traditional home­ craft to that in the modern workshop context. A number of the units have already been taken.


CCI-newsletter-1980-25-March-April