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London’s independent craft businesses might be tiny, but they pack a mighty economic punch. Makers based at Cockpit Arts make a surprisingly hefty contribution to the capital’s thriving creative industries, according to our 2020 Cockpit Effect Impact Report.
The 147 businesses based at London’s leading studios for contemporary craft enjoyed increasing profitability in 2019, according to results in this year’s Cockpit Effect report. Together these jewellers, ceramicists, weavers and woodturners (some of whom are international leaders in their field) generated £5.9 million in total annual sales. Profits and GVA grew by an average 12% and 20%, respectively, against an increase in turnover of 7.7%, for those reporting two years’ data.
Making Community: The Cockpit Effect 2020 reveals impressive resilience amongst Cockpit businesses in the face of increasing market pressures. In the craft sector, as with retail more generally, market conditions continue to challenge, as does the disruption to established models and routes. Last year, the Mayor of London highlighted the threat to studio space in the capital – with a loss of 17% of affordable spaces and a forecast drop of a further 24%.
According to the report, Cockpit makers’ success is down to how they marry exceptional skill and artistic excellence with savvy business sense cultivated by the in-house enterprise support at Cockpit’s Deptford and Holborn studios.
This impressive impact has not gone unnoticed. For the second year, Cockpit has been recognised on the NatWest SE100 index of the top 100 UK social enterprises. And this year the London charity has also been shortlisted for the SE100 Impact Champion Award. Results will be announced at a central London awards ceremony on the 26th March.
– 147 business – 24 disciplines including: 33% jewellery, 14% textiles, 10% ceramics, 10% leather
– These 147 businesses generated £5.9 million total annual sales, with turnover up 7.7% and profit up 12%
– 55% of makers exported goods during the year featured
– 130 freelancers employed by Cockpit makers
– Cockpit’s community 81% female and 19% male – compared to 32% female / 68% male for self-employed craft workforce UK-wide
– 20% black, Asian and minority ethnic and 80% white – compared to 4% BAME / 96% white for craft UK-wide
– Cockpit delivered 47 workshops with 601 coaching sessions and 53 partnerships
Launched at a special reception at the Haberdashers’ Hall, City of London, on 9th March 2020, the Cockpit Effect report gives an insight in to the craft businesses that Cockpit works with – the challenges they face, the way they work with the makers and the impact that Cockpit and, just as importantly they, believe that this support makes. The report highlights the creativity of its makers not just in their work but also in the ways in which they reach their audiences and develop sustainable models for their businesses.
The report brings to light the realities facing makers in a period of economic uncertainty, including a need to keep nimble and adaptable, with the bearing that has on the recruitment of employees and freelancers.
The findings draw upon on-going research and activities conducted by Cockpit Arts during the 12-month period to 31 October 2019 and, where possible, comparisons are made to longitudinal data collated between 2005 and 2018 as well as external data on craft businesses in the UK.
“Cockpit’s unique mix of affordable workspace and tailored business advice – combined with the support that comes from being part of a creative community – is what gives our makers the edge. We are home to 147 makers practicing in 24 different disciplines, with 20% in the early stages of their career supported by bursaries working alongside more mature businesses. It’s this mix – and the opportunities for peer support that it offers – that gives Cockpit makers the encouragement to take creative and business risks – risks that pay off.”
Annie Warburton, CEO Cockpit Arts
“Standing out in a crowded marketplace – and conveying the essence of making as a point of difference – continues to be a major focus for makers and for business support, providing the competitive edge needed for their business to thrive. That this support is provided over a sustained period of time remains a crucial element of the mix.”
David Crump, report author and Head of Business Incubation, Cockpit Arts