What sector does your business operate in?

Craft sector

Where do you work?

We have two London centres housing up to 170 craft based businesses at any one time.  We work with hundreds more nationally and internationally via our training and seminar programme, online resources and consultancy services.

What is your social mission?

To support and promote talented designer-makers from all backgrounds through all stages of their career. We strive to raise standards in the contemporary craft and design sectors, making an important contribution to the UK cultural landscape and economy

What’s the back story?

Cockpit Arts was founded in 1993 as a registered charity for craftspeople in need of inexpensive studio space. In 2005 the charity decided that it could better meet its purpose to support British craftspeople by providing intensive business support. We therefore set about transforming the organisation into a business incubator model.

Our idea was to ‘raise the bar’ in the craft sector. We wanted to develop the capacity of craftspeople to develop sustainable businesses with models that are right for them.  We also wanted to create a financially self-sufficient social enterprise business model for Cockpit Arts that would be independent and non-reliant on public funding. 

Following initial investment from the regional development agency, Deutsche Bank and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, we were able to build our operation and develop the capacity of our beneficiaries to pay for services.

Presently we house up to 170 small businesses at our two centres in Holborn and Deptford, where we provide on-site business incubation services delivered by an in house team. Services comprise a mix of workspace/studios, business coaching, workshops and seminars, access to finance, selling and promotional opportunities. We measure the impact of our work in social, cultural and economic terms and are able to evidence that craft businesses at Cockpit Arts report higher average turnovers and profit than comparable businesses in the rest of the UK. Our craft employment initiatives create new and permanent job openings for young people and our partnership programme with The Prince’s Trust has had a 100% success rate for sustainable self-employment after two years of beneficiary support.

We are known to be an award winning social enterprise and the UK’s only creative business incubator, profiled nationally and internationally for an innovative and sustainable business model.  We are now embarking on the next stage of our social enterprise development to open up more employment in the craft sector, generating surpluses to support this goal.

Learn more about Cockpit Arts here.