ccbc + the social enterprise
The Craft Council of BC (CCBC) is a meeting place, a resource center, part of a movement, an important part of Vancouver’s culture and structurally, is a charitable non-profit in the arts sector. Historically, our organization has had three spaces that we work through: our offices, a social enterprise, and a gallery. Today, the social enterprise takes the form of a consignment shop, located beneath our offices on Granville Island.
This organization (originally called the Craftsmen Association of BC) was born out of a movement in the 1970s that, in part, sought to see craft recognized as a fine art form. The majority of the organization’s work focused keeping the heartbeat of the organization going by organizing meetups, acting as a communication hub, and assisting craft artists to exhibit and sell their work. The mission has not changed much since our inception and today, our mandate is to (1) support all stages of the artistic practice in the craft sector; (2) create opportunities for artists to exhibit, sell and produce art; (3) provide a voice for artists and craft organizations; and (4) aid in the development of active communities around craft. We realize these objectives through five programs administered and facilitated through the office and shop at Granville Island: education and outreach, advocacy, membership, curatorial, and the social enterprise. Each of these programs are distinct but are all centred on the intent of empowering the craft community.
A social enterprise may be defined as a business that sells goods and services but embeds a social, cultural or environmental purpose into the business, and reinvests their profits into their social mission; in other words, a social enterprise has the goal of social impact and it works through the means of business. Our shop is a consignment shop, meaning that goods are left with us, and we are authorized to sell them. Profits are shared between both the artist and the shop and any revenue that the Shop earns is then reinvested back into the organization to carry out its mandate. All the artists who are consigners in the shop are members of the Council and have passed a juried Standards of Quality assessment for their work. In terms that sound dry but teem with life in real-time, the CCBC Shop has three major goals: empower craftspeople in their craft by being a space where artists can exhibit and sell their work, elevate the profile of contemporary craft in BC, and connect artists' work with collectors and enthusiasts. The Shop contributes to our second point in our mandate and by doing so, it has trickle-down effects in the other three.
The CCBC Social Enterprise seeks to serve the craftspeople community, including fibre artists, glass blowers, woodworkers, ceramicists and metal artists. Over the years, the shop has been administered by artists, staff and volunteers – but the space is always able to speak for itself. The objects in the store are usually the result of decades of education and experience, thousands of hours of work with particular tools, and an intention that is unique to the maker. They all speak in profound ways, representing something both ancient and contemporary. The sanded wooden boards, wood fired pottery and translucent hanging glass are the result of someone’s intentional design and creation with their own hands. They represent aspects of the artist, as it is impossible to separate someone’s creation from its creator, whether that is in craft, music, writing, homemaking or otherwise; we all have unique ‘fingerprints’ that both shape and colour what we do. If the heartbeat of the organization is the craft community, then the Shop demonstrates one visual representation of that beating life.
The shop is also inherently designed for active participation and engagement with the public. We seek to connect people with the craft we carry, the artists we represent and the stories that exist in between. We believe in what we are doing and recognize that engaging with and owning handmade craft by local artists speaks to values that are intrinsic to society. Craft and craftspeople have always been a non-negotiable part of society when we consider the source of our both every day items such as quilts or plates, or ponder on the vase passed down from our grandparents - there was a person and intent behind these items. The Shop, in part, represents an ancient and contemporary conviction that shines light on the value of craft and the craft community.
This blog post is part of a four-part blog series titled ‘Getting to know the CCBC Social Enterprise’.
Mallory Donen - fibre artist and ccbc member
Featured image: The Crucible: Guides to Industrial Arts