Provincial Craft Councils Unmasked

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Do Provincial Crafts Councils Work?

Are government funded craft councils failing their membership and Canadians?

Every so often I like to review the purpose and focus of our website. Over the past few months I stepped away from creating regular posts, and now that I have the time to work at it again I have been thinking about why I bother, really, what can I accomplish?   What does the artisan community in Canada need and am I in a position to help? Asking myself these questions, I remembered why I started ArtisanCanada in the first place. It was because the ten provincial craft councils aren’t doing a good job. Period.


Helping Themselves More Than The Artisans?

In this post and more to follow I will elaborate on why I believe that the government funded craft councils are not meeting the needs of their membership and Canadians. Not to highlight problems without offering up some solutions – I will include examples of what they could be doing, what’s possible. For example we will take a look at what Ireland does to help their craftspeople, and promote their artisan economy. I think they are doing a good job, a much better job than our craft councils are doing. We’ll compare the two and find out.


Lets start with membership fees.


Membership to the Design And Crafts Council Of Ireland is FREE.

They currently have over 2,800 registered clients, and over 75 member organisations. AND:

They maintain a “Public Directory of Craftspeople where you can search for registered makers (who have opted to be listed in the public craft directory) by name, county, product and discipline as well as samples of their work.” Their list of membership organisations includes design and craft Guilds, Associations, Networks and Societies (GANS).

We can certainly see where where their funding is spent! 


The Canadian provincial craft councils have a range of membership fees, with Craft Ontario being the most expensive at $130/yr for a “craft professional”

So while Ireland uses their government funding to supply a variety of services to their artisans FOR FREE (I will elaborate on those services in a future post), the provincial craft councils in Canada use their government funding to support their own salaries and operating expenses while charging the artisans a significant fee to benefit from the services they may provide. Artisans who, by the way, were the reason they were able to get the funding in the first place. The rationale being that the artisan community needed support. It seems that the Federal government has dropped the ball – they GAVE the provincial craft councils the funds – they just didn’t make sure the primary beneficiary of the funding would ultimately be the ARTISANS.


Here is skinny on membership fees:

Craft Council of British Columbia membership fees:

Range between $28/yr (students) to $100/yr (businesses)

$65/yr for “professional” artists


Alberta Craft Council membership fees:

Range between $45/yr (students/seniors) to $90/yr (group, organization, institution etc)

$60/yr for “individual” memberships


Saskatchewan Craft Council

Range between $50/yr (students) to $100/yr organizations

$100/yr for “professional craftsperson’s”

Subsequent years have reduced membership fees


Manitoba Craft Council membership fees:

Range between $30/yr (students, low income and “friends) to

$50/yr for a “regular membership”


Craft Ontario

Range between $45 (students) to $200 (family membership)

$130/yr for a “craft professional”


Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association

$50/yr for art organizations, galleries, government departments and other organizations

Membership is free for artists


Conseil des métiers d’art du Quebec

Range between $30 (“craft interns” and “friends”) to $250 (“craft studio”)

$125/yr for a “craft professional”


Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador membership fees:

Range between $30/yr (students) to $95/yr (“marketing” member)

$80/yr for “general” membership


New Brunswick Craft Council membership fees:

Range between $25/yr (students) to $50/yr (groups and individuals)

$50/yr for “individual” membership


Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council membership fees:

Range between $23 (students) to $115 (“market” membership)

$69/yr for “general” membership


PEI Crafts Council (Prince Edward Island)

Range between $12/yr (student) to $350/yr (professional craft business with 13+ employees)

$90/yr for a “craft professional”



Now lets take a quick look at STAFF and BOARD MEMBERSHIPS


The Design And Crafts Council Of Ireland is a national organization representing all of Ireland (which has a small population of just under 4.6 million). As mentioned above they have over 2,800 members.

From their website, they appear to have 28 staff and 11 Board members.



Now lets take a look at the various provincial craft councils across Canada. In total I count 90 staff and 125 Board members, with Craft Ontario having the largest payroll of 15 Staff.  Keep in mind, these are civil service jobs (broader public service) that come with benefits, something the artisans don’t have. Who’s really benefiting from these government funded arts councils?

I couldn’t find the total number of members each provincial council has (on their websites), however I hazard a guess that if you added up all the provincial memberships it wouldn’t total much more than the total membership of The Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (it might even be less). Perhaps I will contact each one to find out for a future post on this subject.

I have listed the individual council numbers below. These figures (and the fees listed above) are based on what I observed on their respective websites. I do not guarantee the numbers, but I believe them to be reasonably accurate. I noticed that some staff numbers seem to be missing (for example, I could not find them listed on the Manitoba Craft Council site).


Craft Council of British Columbia

14 Staff (although 4 are listed under “community support” so it is unclear if they are paid or volunteer their services)

5 Board members


Alberta Craft Council

7 Staff

12 Board members


Saskatchewan Craft Council

11 Staff

7 Board members


Manitoba Craft Council

11 Board members

No “staff” listed


Craft Ontario

15 Staff 5/Administration, 7/Shop, 3/Magazine

15 Executive Committee & Board members


Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association

2 Staff

8 Board members


Conseil des métiers d’art du Quebec

14 Staff

13 Board members


Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador

8 Staff

16 Board members


New Brunswick Craft Council

2 Staff

16 Executive Committee & Board members


Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council

4 Staff

9 Board members


PEI Crafts Council (Prince Edward Island)

1 Staff – Executive Director

13 Board members. It is unclear to me, how many staff they actually have. They have a “group photo” with 11 people in it but some, or all, of them could be board members.

What’s Next

In upcoming posts we will look at the services that artisans in Ireland and other countries receive from their crafts councils, including how:

“The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) liaises with more than 120 retail shops around Ireland to source and promote Irish made craft and design products.”

When was the last time our provincial craft councils got together to promote Canadian made artisan products to hundreds of shops across Canada? We will take a closer look at what the provincial councils “do” and what they “don’t do”, as well as which organizations, staff/board members and members seem to benefit the most, and which artisans are left out in the cold.

A Warning Shot

Stay tuned for weekly posts about what your tax dollars and artisan’s membership fees are supporting. This is a wakeup call for provincial craft councils across Canada and the federal decision makers who fund them. Lets fire a shot across their bow!