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Leading Northern Ireland craft organisations announce merger

03/10/17

The Craft & Design Collective and Craft Northern Ireland announced their merger on October 3. The two organisations, are now working together for the benefit of Artist/Designer/Makers and the sector in a new body called Craft NI

The merger marks a natural progression towards creating one representative body for Artists/Designers/Makers. After working in partnership for over six months, the Boards of the two bodies agreed the merger will help develop the Craft Sector and strengthen the valuable input of Artist/Designer/Makers to the creative industries at home and abroad.


Northern Ireland has been a world-class contributor to the global field of Craft, Applied Art and Design, evidenced by the range and quality of work by leading makers. Artists such as silversmith Cara Murphy whose work has been added to the Silver Trust Collection at 10 Downing Street, Scott Benefield, glass artist whose work has been exhibited internationally and held in several private collections including the Sir Elton John Collection and Stuart Cairns whose work has been exhibited at Collect at The Saatchi Gallery and Silver Speaks at The Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Craft Northern Ireland and the Craft & Design Collective have been instrumental in providing a strong voice for the Craft Sector in Northern Ireland and both organisations are excited at the potential for furthering that work within a new charitable organisation.

Scott Benefield

Scott Benefield | Photography by David Pauley

Martin Bradley former Chair of Craft Northern Ireland said, 'There are significant economies of scale to be gained from the merger, particularly at a time when financial pressures are being felt by all. I’m happy to say the Boards of both organisations were in agreement that our Artist/Designer/Makers will gain from this merger and will benefit from the pooling of the wealth of professional expertise that lies within both organisations.'

The purpose of the newly formed Craft NI is to:

  • Represent the Craft Sector in Northern Ireland
  • Stimulate greater understanding of Craft, Applied Art and Design through a dynamic programme of activities and audience engagement
  • Celebrate, support and promote the excellence of Craft, Applied Art and Design from Northern Ireland
  • Develop pathways towards greater sustainability for the Craft Sector in Northern Ireland
  • Showcase Craft, Applied Art and Design regionally, nationally and internationally


Rory Shearer former Chair of the Craft & Design Collective said, 'This is good news for our Artist/Designer/Makers in Northern Ireland. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to combine the cumulative knowledge, experience and ambition of both organisations in order to represent, develop and showcase the very best from all involved in the Craft Sector here. We are particularly excited about the potential for delighting a much broader audience with some amazing work from our many, very talented, makers.'

Stuart Cairns | Photography by Stuart Cairns

Stuart Cairns | Photography by Stuart Cairns

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said, 'I welcome the merger of Craft Northern Ireland and the Craft & Design Collective; it is a smart solution for two organisations that are contributing very valuable services to the development of the Craft Sector in Northern Ireland. Sustainability is an all important issue within the arts in Northern Ireland today as pressures on public funding prevail. So this is good news for designers, artists and makers working in craft. I look forward to seeing the new Craft NI emerge from this strategic process with an inspirational programme of activities for makers and the public alike.'

The merger of the Craft & Design Collective and Craft Northern Ireland completed on 1 October 2017, however the merger process will continue over the next six months in order to bring together the programmes, processes and cultures of these two previously independent and autonomous organisations. The next six months will allow for a period of transition during which the current commitments for 2017/18 will be delivered and a new programme of activities and events will be developed for 2018/19.