London’s independent craft businesses might be tiny, but they pack a mighty economic punch. Makers based at Cockpit Arts make a surprisingly hefty contribution to the capital’s thriving creative industries, according to a new report.

The 147 businesses based at London’s leading studios for contemporary craft enjoyed increasing profitability in 2019, according to results in this year’s Cockpit Effect report. Together these jewellers, ceramicists, weavers and woodturners (some of whom are international leaders in their field) generated £5.9 million in total annual sales. Profits and GVA grew by an average 12% and 20%, respectively, against an increase in turnover of 7.7%, for those reporting two years’ data.

Making Community: The Cockpit Effect 2020 reveals impressive resilience amongst Cockpit businesses in the face of increasing market pressures. In the craft sector, as with retail more generally, market conditions continue to challenge, as does the disruption to established models and routes. Last year, the Mayor of London highlighted the threat to studio space in the capital – with a loss of 17% of affordable spaces and a forecast drop of a further 24%.

According to the report, Cockpit makers’ success is down to how they marry exceptional skill and artistic excellence with savvy business sense cultivated by the in-house enterprise support at Cockpit’s Deptford and Holborn studios. 

Download the full report HERE

Download images and high res report HERE

The statistics in a nutshell

  • 147 business – 24 disciplines including: 33% jewellery, 14% textiles, 10% ceramics, 10% leather
  • These 147 businesses generated £5.9 million total annual sales, with turnover up 7.7% and profit up 12%
  • 55% of makers exported goods during the year featured
  • 130 freelancers employed by Cockpit makers
  • Cockpit’s community 81% female and 19% male – compared to 32% female / 68% male for self-employed craft workforce UK-wide
  • 20% black, Asian and minority ethnic and 80% white – compared to 4% BAME / 96% white for craft UK-wide
  • Cockpit delivered 47 workshops with 601 coaching sessions and 53 partnerships

Quotes

 “Cockpit’s unique mix of affordable workspace and tailored business advice – combined with the support that comes from being part of a creative community – is what gives our makers the edge. We are home to 147 makers practicing in 24 different disciplines, with 20% in the early stages of their career supported by bursaries working alongside more mature businesses. It’s this mix – and the opportunities for peer support that it offers – that gives Cockpit makers the encouragement to take creative and business risks – risks that pay off!”

Annie Warburton, CEO Cockpit Arts

Standing out in a crowded marketplace – and conveying the essence of making as a point of difference – continues to be a major focus for makers and for business support, providing the competitive edge needed for their business to thrive. That this support is provided over a sustained period of time remains a crucial element of the mix.

The statistics in a nutshell

  • 147 business – 24 disciplines including: 33% jewellery, 14% textiles, 10% ceramics, 10% leather
  • These 147 businesses generated £5.9 million total annual sales, with turnover up 7.7% and profit up 12%
  • 55% of makers exported goods during the year featured
  • 130 freelancers employed by Cockpit makers
  • Cockpit’s community 81% female and 19% male – compared to 32% female / 68% male for self-employed craft workforce UK-wide
  • 20% black, Asian and minority ethnic and 80% white – compared to 4% BAME / 96% white for craft UK-wide
  • Cockpit delivered 47 workshops with 601 coaching sessions and 53 partnerships

Cockpit Arts  is London’s leading studios for contemporary crafts and the only UK business incubator for makers.

  • Cockpit is home to over 140 independent creative businesses at its sites in Deptford and Holborn. Many are recognised internationally as leaders in their field.
  • Cockpit is recognised in 2019 and 2020 on the NatWest SE100 index as a top UK social enterprise.  It is shortlisted for the 2020 SE100 Impact Champion Award. Winner to be announced on the 26th March.
  • Cockpit offers an expert business support package and dedicated studio space to enable makers setting out on their careers, as well as those more established, to make the most of their talent.
  • 20% of our studio holders are supported through Awards and Bursaries, funded by City of London Livery Companies, trusts and foundations, and individual and corporate sponsors.
  • A destination for private collectors, museum curators, luxury retail buyers and interior decorators, Cockpit opens its doors twice a year at its renowned Open Studios, where visitors can buy and commission direct from makers. Bespoke studio tours are available to businesses, special interest groups, schools and colleges.
  • Cockpit provides consultancy to other studios and craft/design business incubators in the UK and has a strong and continuing relationship with the British Council, supporting international creative and social enterprises, working this year in Indonesia and Pakistan.
  • Cockpit provides dedicated schemes for talented creative individuals facing barriers in setting up their business – including the new Make It! programme, launched in 2019 building on a long-standing scheme that successfully supported 26 creatives into business in association with The Prince’s Trust.
  • Cockpit is committed to inclusion, diversity and equality in governance and in all its activities, recognising that diversity improves performance and fuels creativity and innovation.