GSA Public Lecture with Dr Karen Patel
GSA School of Design

Event Type:

The GSA Public Lecture




20 Oct 2022
17:30 - 19:00



Karen Patel
Women’s Maker Movement session at Craftspace, Birmingham, 2020

GSA Public Lecture with Dr Karen Patel

Event info

GSA Public Lecture with Dr Karen Patel

Craft and community: How craft social enterprises adapted to the COVID-19 crisis

Thursday 20 October 2022

Guest speaker: Dr Karen Patel, Research Fellow and Director of CEDIA (Centre for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts), Birmingham City University

Commentator/ Respondents: Professor James Stephen-Cran, and Thomai Pnevmonidou School of Design, GSA

Craft social enterprises and community groups aim to bring people together through craft activity, often in a physical space. When the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated lockdown during 2020, these organisations faced significant challenges. In this talk I will discuss how three UK craft social enterprises adapted to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what lessons there are for the craft sector in terms of supporting communities through craft, and supporting diversity and inclusion. The research suggests that these organisations utilised social media and video calling software such as Zoom to sustain and widen engagement, particularly among minoritised groups. While there is clearly a demand for these craft groups, they rely on precarious sources of funding, and significant personal investment and commitment from the people who run them. The case studies highlight how these groups are simultaneously precarious and resilient during a time of significant uncertainty.


Dr Karen Patel is a Research Fellow at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University. She is currently leading the AHRC funded project Craft Expertise in collaboration with the Crafts Council. Karen’s research interests centre on issues around expertise, gender, race and social media use in creative work. She is also Director of the Centre for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts (CEDIA) at Birmingham City University. Karen is author of The Politics of Expertise in Cultural Labour: Arts, Work, Inequalities and co-editor of Craft Entrepreneurship with Dr Annette Naudin (both published by Rowman & Littlefield International).