DCCoI Statement on the RDS Craft Awards

Posted 18.06.18

The RDS Craft Awards have contributed significantly to the development and growth of the craft sector in Ireland. DCCoI would like to acknowledge the importance of its long-standing partnership with the RDS and to thank the RDS for their significant and sustained investment in the sector over the last 50 years of the awards programme.

The changes to the RDS Craft Awards being introduced in 2018 follow a review by the RDS of the previous structure and an alignment of the craft awards programme with the RDS arts work programme and its goal of supporting artists to make the transition from emerging to professional practice.

Through the restructuring of the programme, DCCoI looks forward to seeing emerging makers benefiting from these significant bursaries in progressing to professional practice and developing a career in Ireland’s vibrant design and craft sector. We are also delighted to have the support of the RDS in sponsoring a bursary for an established maker.

DCCoI acknowledges that the establishment of generous new bursaries for the craft sector is very welcome. We are also aware that the changes being introduced to the RDS Craft Awards have raised some concerns amongst craftspeople around eligibility criteria, and particularly in relation to the exhibition opportunity of having selected work showcased to the public in a high-profile location.

The RDS Craft Awards have always been a very important initiative for the craft sector, providing many makers with the opportunity to have their work assessed by an independent expert panel and as well as having an incentive to make one-off pieces. Given the gap that has been created by the restructuring of the RDS Craft Awards, DCCoI has agreed to undertake an evaluation of the potential of DCCoI hosting an open submission exhibition opportunity. 

Any potential new initiative would not attempt to be a direct replacement of the RDS Crafts Awards. However, it would provide an opportunity to build on the work the RDS has done over the last 50 years through developing a new platform to showcase the level of talent, creativity, innovation and craftsmanship that is in this country.

DCCoI has met with representatives of Making.ie who invited craftspeople to submit their responses to the restructuring of the RDS Craft Awards which were subsequently published online. We will take into consideration the comments and suggestions within those responses, including matters such as the type of exhibition (open call), location of the exhibition, the type of juried selection, timing of an event, ability to raise sponsorship etc. DCCoI also plans to consult with our member organisations and registered client enterprises through a short online survey to gather direct feedback and suggestions.

We are very conscious that if any future exhibition initiative was to be introduced, it would need to be well executed, with adequate and sustained resourcing and funding in place in order to do justice to the work being showcased. Securing appropriate funding through sponsorship would be a key consideration regarding the introduction of an additional programme.

This statement is an outline of DCCoI’s intent to investigate the possibility of an alternative open call exhibition opportunity for the design and craft sector. Unfortunately we are not in a position to make any commitments at this time.

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