Craft Australia has been the national peak body representing Australian contemporary craft and design practice. In 2011, its 41st year of operation Craft Australia was defunded by the Visual Arts Board (VAB) of the Australia Council for the Arts. This decision was an outcome of a review of the key organisations supported by the VAB. The reason given for defunding Craft Australia was it's reliance on Government support, which Craft Australia has challenged.
Formed as the Crafts Council of Australia in 1971, Craft Australia was active in co-ordinating, and bringing attention to the work of state crafts organisations (now the Australian Craft and Design Centres, ACDC), as well as that of specialist groups, galleries, education institutions and individual practitioners, in the craft field. It responded to the needs of the thriving craft and design movement and, supported in the 1970s and 80s by the then Crafts Board of the Australia Council, managed national and international projects, ran a gallery and a resource centre, brought in significant visitors, published a journal and held conferences. Craft Australia was also a strong participant in international bodies such as the World Crafts Council. In recent years, encouraged by the VAB in an earlier review, it has focused on research, advocacy, communication and debate, developing a comprehensive website including links to related groups; an on-line peer-assessed research journal, craft+design enquiry; biennial on-line forums on issues common to the sector such as digitisation, sustainability, and the future of indigenous crafts; and has represented and advocated for the field on other national bodies. More of Craft Australia history can be read here.
Without the support of the Australia Council for the Arts, the organisation was not viable and the Board of Directors decided to wind up the organisation effective the end of April 2012. In so doing the board of Directors agreed that as many of Craft Australia's activities and programs be preserved to ensure that the cultural legacy of the Australian craft and design sector from the late 1960s to the present day is not lost. New host organisations were approached to become the custodians of this history. To this end the historical and visual archives of the Australian studio craft movement that Craft Australia developed and collected over the past 40 years will be managed by the National Gallery of Australia. We are pleased to write that the entire collection from the Craft Australia library and its archives will be accessible from the National Gallery of Australia Research Library.
Craft Australia's digital stories, amassed over the past 9 years on the Craft Australia website, will be archived by Pandora at the National Library of Australia ensuring that all recently developed programs and material are accessible. Undertaken by Craft Australia to promote the sector these relatively recent programs include
The national forums and projects that date from 2004 - 2011
The Craft Australia digital library that includes catalogue essays, artists' interviews and reviews.
The digital archive of ca enews
Two key programs initiated by Craft Australia will continue in the hands of new host organisations. These are the craft+design enquiry journal that will be managed by the Autralian National University, School of Art and will be published by ANU E Press.
The other is the digitised Craft Australia National Historical Collection on eHive that will be managed by the National Gallery of Australia Research Library. This significant digital archive ensures that the legacy of the past 41 years of the studio craft movement are accesible for the benefit of future generations of creative practitioners.
In winding up the organisation Craft Australia staff have gone to great efforts to ensure that we do not leave a void of information about this dynamic field of cultural activity. I trust that in the hands of the new host organisations the legacy of Craft Australia and the craft and design artists it has represented will continue to inspire future makers.