The primary aim of the Radcliffe Red List is to assess the vitality of traditional heritage crafts in the UK and identify those crafts which are most at risk. A secondary aim of the project is to create a comprehensive listing of heritage crafts in the UK in the form of a wiki (a website which anyone can contribute to), with a page of research for each craft.
The assessment of the vitality of each craft – from those which are currently viable to those which are most endangered – and the research about each craft will be made with the help of craftspeople, craft organisations, heritage professionals, funding bodies and members of the public who contribute to this wiki.
For the purposes of this research, a heritage craft is defined as 'a practice which employs manual dexterity and skill and an understanding of traditional materials, design and techniques, and which has been practised in the United Kingdom for two or more successive generations'.
A basic listing of crafts to be featured in this research has been drawn from the list of crafts identified in the preliminary stages of research used in Mapping Heritage Craft (Creative & Cultural Skills: 2012), with further additions from the Heritage Crafts Association and members of the public. Further crafts which meet the above definition can be added to the list as they are identified. An individual page for each has been created for each craft. The full list of crafts can be found here...
Drawing on the conservation status system used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust Watchlist, the HCA is using a system of four categories of risk to assess the viability of heritage crafts. A heritage craft is considered to be viable if there are sufficient craftspeople to transmit the craft skills to the next generation. The four categories of risk are, in descending order: least concern, endangered, critically endangered and extinct. There is an additional category, data deficient, for crafts where we have insufficient information to make a classification. Find out more about the categories here...
The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, of which traditional craftsmanship is identified as one of the five domains of intangible heritage, believes that knowledge about a heritage practice lies with the communities which practise it, and takes a grassroots-up rather than an expert-down approach to safeguarding a heritage practice. It was therefore decided to use a wiki approach, rather than a more traditional expert-led research methodology, to gather knowledge about crafts from the craftspeople themselves.
However, in order to conduct a robust and structured piece of research, a template has been provided for each craft page within the wiki. This template lists the fields to be included, with definitions of each field and guidelines on what each field should contain also available. The fields include background information about the craft, such as its history, techniques and local forms, and current information about the craft, such as number of trainees and skilled craftspeople, support organisations, and issues affecting the sustainability of the craft. Click here for a full list of fields and their definitions.
A skeletal wiki page has been created for each craft listed, and these have been initially populated through desk-based research conducted by the Heritage Crafts Association. The wiki will then be opened up to the public for them to identify any crafts and sub-crafts not currently listed, to contribute further information about each craft, and to provide information about the number of craftspeople practising a craft. Craft organisations and individuals will be contacted directly and invited to contribute. For those who don't feel comfortable updating the wiki themselves, there will also be the option to share information via email and telephone. Find out how to contribute to the wiki here...
Once the wiki has been populated, the Heritage Crafts Association will be able to identify which crafts are most endangered. This assessment will be made on both objective terms (for example, if there is only one person practising the craft then it is almost certainly critically endangered) and subjective terms (how endangered the craftspeople themselves believe the craft to be). Further research will then be conducted into these crafts through direct contact with organisations and individuals to identify the issues affecting the sustainability of the craft, what can be done to address the issues, and what can be done to support the craft. The results will be compiled in a report known as the 'Radcliffe Red List'.
One the Radcliffe Red List is published, it will be used as an advocacy tool to argue for support for heritage crafts.