Citizens of Craft: The inspiring Canadian model

5 December 2019

The Canadian Crafts Federation campaign Citizens of Craft offers an important model for national craft advocacy. We share the origins and learnings of this movement.

The Canadian Crafts Federation was officially established in 1974, when multiple craft organizations combined their efforts to form a single, national entity. Maegen Black has been part of the team since 2006, when she joined as a project manager (she became Director the following year). Its funding is mainly provided by the Canadian government, as well as membership fees provided by the regional Crafts Councils, each of which appoints a board member who meet virtually six times a year, and face to face annually. While the regional councils focus on local projects, CCF takes on longer “big-picture” projects.

At a national meeting in 2014, CCF gathered to develop a fresh identity for craft, involving a manifesto that would celebrate its values for both craft professionals and appreciators. Members of the craft councils are now able to create individual profiles that are accessed on the website by medium and place. Maegen acknowledges the work of Emma Quin at Craft Ontario as driving this initial process. Citizensofcraft.ca was launched in late 2015 with the following credo:

In promoting the manifesto, CCF sought to embrace the complex history of Canada where citizenship is often disputed. The manifesto is published in three languages: English, French and Inuktitut.

Maegen Black outlines the core purpose of CCF:

The Citizens of Craft movement is, at its core, a celebration of the purpose of craft. It is an extremely broad form of art that incorporates endless mediums and approaches, and we all face the challenge of how to define what this wide world of craft entails. There are a million ways to tell the story of craft, but the Citizens of Craft approach narrows these big ideas into bite-sized moments that help the world understand the “why” of what we do. The profiles on Citizens of Craft show you the visuals of craft, and the manifesto and podcast show you the language of craft. Through these tools, the Canadian Crafts Federation and all our members have a touchpoint to help guide this ongoing conversation. Because how we talk about craft matters, especially when you’re trying to reach people outside of the craft community. With Craft Year 2020 on the horizon, Citizens of Craft is more important than ever before to help us celebrate craft activity across Canada all year long.


Manifesto (with podcast links)

The Citizens of Craft Manifesto acts as a rich conversation starter. Each principle is elaborated by a discussion among active members of the CCF.

  1. YOU ARE NOT A LEMMING.

You’re not a follower; you trust your own tastes and live by them.

  1. WE VALUE THE UNIQUE AND ENDURING.

As an authentic human being, you appreciate things that don’t scream assembly line.

  1. OBJECTS SHOULD INHABIT, NOT INTRUDE.

You believe objects with personal, tactile histories engage with your world better than the anonymously mass-produced.

  1. YOU ARE NOT AUTOMATED, MANUFACTURED, OR CLONED.

You weren’t made in a factory, so you prefer not to bury your life with things that are.

  1. YOU BELIEVE IN 10-DIGIT TECHNOLOGY.

You connect more strongly with things made by a pair of hands – the original 10-digit machine.

  1. ONE SIZE SHOULD NOT FIT ALL.

You prefer objects that mirror your individual taste, rather than fit some monster demographic.

  1. NOTHING IS NEWER THAN TRADITION.

You are as much a fan of time-honoured techniques as you are of their contemporary interpretations.

  1. COOKIE CUTTER DOESN’T CUT IT.

You appreciate that Craft brings different cultures and perspectives into your space.

  1. VASES ARE PEOPLE TOO.

Craft objects evoke their makers, letting you surround yourself with not just things, but personalities.

  1. WHILE WE ALL MARCH TO DIFFERENT DRUMS, WE MOVE TOGETHER.

You value how each maker’s unique expression bonds us as a richer community.

CCF staff, board, and national partners in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada at the National Conference, October 2018


Citizens of Craft has proven popular in Canada with the #citizensofcraft hashtag used over 6,000 times and a combined 6,800 listens to the podcast.

Next year this program will be integrated into the Canadian Craft Year 2020 festival of events. It will help spotlight major craft activities and organisations happening across the country.

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