Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showmen & Boater Crafts of Cultural Significance to be added to the Red List of Endangered Crafts in 2023

26 January 2023
Beautiful Vardo

Crafts Makers are invited to participate in a community-led survey to help add our crafts to the new list being created by Heritage Crafts

Are you a Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showman, Boater (GRTSB) Crafts Person ?

Do you want to ensure your crafts are passed on to the next generation?

Do you have ten minutes to fill in a survey to tell us more about your crafts skills and how important GRTSB cultural crafts are in 2023?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then please find the survey here

Thank you for your time

Lead image credit Bela Varadi

Paperflower making
(c) Damian Le Bas

For the first time, Crafts of Cultural Significance will be added to the Heritage Crafts Red List of Endangered Crafts in the UK.  The definition of Culturally Significant Craft includes crafts that belong to an ethnic minority, or are created in a specific region, which ties it to tradition and / or local culture. These crafts are often unique and also at high-risk of being lost into the future if no young people are training in the skills.

The first round of the survey (December 2022) gave some really clear results;

GRTSB makers on average practice around three skilled crafts (often more), and these include extensive repair and restoration skills.

The craft makers who participated had each been practicing for 25 years plus, testament to learning cultural making skills as children, and shows the skills we have as part of our ethnic identities.

Crafts included Vardo making, Tinsmithing, hurdle making, bentwood and greenwood furniture making, puppet making, traditional charcoal making, pottery, pegs and flower making, saddlery and leather work, and many more (the full list is included in the survey here

All materials and skills are considered; wood, metal, textile, pottery. Showmen and Boaters are also included, with specialist sections for fairground arts and barge painting.

Heritage Crafts have noted that Tinsmithing is on the critically endangered list; floristry crafts are under-represented, so flower makers are encouraged to list their crafts in the survey, including wreath, wood, wax and paper flower makers. It is essential we get a good idea of traditional Vardo and Reading Wagon makers, painters and restorers in this survey, to safeguard these very special traditions into the future.

Heritage Crafts have been working to build The Red List since 2017 to provide information on critically endangered crafts which will become extinct if no apprentices take up the skills, and traditional ways of making become lost when the last maker of that craft passes. It also means funding can be provided to encourage new and existing craft makers to take up an endangered craft by learning about it and sourcing old tools which might be in storage.

This ongoing project will help build a platform for sharing and protecting GRTSB crafts throughout 2023 and beyond, and we want you to be part of it! Updates to follow.

Please share the survey with your family and friends and be part of representing our GRTSB cultural crafts into the future;

By Imogen Bright Moon for TTVision