The Crafts in a Post-Modern Market

Harry Hillman Chartrand
Journal of Design History 2 (2) & (3), 1989


It is indeed timely that the United Nations has declared 1988 to 1997 the 'World Decade of Cultural Development'. [1]  The decade is intended, as I understand it, to raise the consciousness of politicians, economic decision-makers and the general public to the fact that cultural development is an end-in-and-of-itself, not just a critical catalyst in fostering economic growth and development.  The implications of the decade for Western culture, including the crafts, are important for three reasons.

First, a series of developments now challenges long-held assumptions of Western industrial superiority and the primacy of secular or rationalist thought.  Such developments include the economic rise of the Asian Pacific Rim, the waxing world-wide influence of Islam, the transition from Marx to markets in previously command economies, and the growing recognition of the limited impact of scientific rationalism on Western public opinion. [2]  Second, there is growing recognition of a deracination of Western culture as ten generations have been born, urbanized, educated and employed to serve the machine since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. This loss of roots has brought the West perilously close to forgetting its traditional arts and crafts while, at the same time, new immigrant traditions are fostering the emergence of a truly multi-cultural society, particularly in North America. [3]  Third, it is also in the West :that. the great value inversion troubling late twentieth century civilization is most acutely apparent.  As an economist, I know that economic development is a means towards ultimate human ends such as personal, cultural and spiritual fulfillment. But economic development has become an end-in-and-of-itself.  For example, increasingly it is necessary to gain public and private sector support for many cultural activities such as the arts, by demonstrating how they contribute towards economic growth, i.e., the means now justifies the end.  Put another way, we in the West know more and more how to do things and less and less about what is worth doing.  There are signs, however, that the environmental issue is forcing a reappraisal of this societal value inversion.

In fact, it is generally agreed that fundamental changes are transforming the economies of the West.  Some are readily apparent, such as High Tech and the displacement of manufacturing to low wage Third World countries.  But beneath the glittering surface of new technology and the apparent de-industrialization of the West, other elemental changes are contributing to the emergence of what I call the 'Post-Modern Economy'.  In this new economy, the traditional economic weaknesses of the arts and crafts are becoming strengths, strengths that should lead to a prosperous and productive twenty-first century for craftspersons and artists.


The Crafts

Today in the West, there remain two distinct types of crafts-the industrial crafts and the handicrafts.4  The industrial crafts, such as printing and die-making, are organized into craft unions because the markets for their skills are generally within large industrial corporations, both publicly- and privately-owned.  It was, of course, the industrial crafts which displaced handicraft by mass-production of most consumer goods during the Industrial Revolution.  Only in luxury goods did handicrafts survive the revolution.

The handicrafts, on the other hand, embrace individual craftspersons, their co-operatives and collectives engaged in the production of, and distribution networks for, hand-made articles, generally of a utilitarian nature and embodying varying degrees of artistry.  Handicraft skills are used to manipulate materials ranging from wood to plastic, from cotton to acrylic fibre, from clay to silver, from paper to steel, from stone to fur.  Such skills are generally learned by doing, i.e. they are experiential in origin.  Nonetheless, they represent true discipline in the sense that technique must be learned and mastered so as to become transparent in application.  The handicrafts are loosely organized into international, national and regional Crafts Councils or guilds which provide varying levels of services and representation to a band of rugged individualists.  Like the artist, the craftsperson does not fit comfortably into the contemporary technocracy.

Large, multi-national communications conglomerates dominate contemporary commercial culture around the world. Such bureaucratic firms face a major problem in managing artistic and other creative personnel.  The artist and the craftsperson, by nature, are risk-taking entrepreneurs-taking risks with time and talent:

In consequence . . . the artist functions as an independent entrepreneur . . . or . . . as a member of a very small firm which he can dominate or in which he can preserve the identity of his work. A few industries-the motion picture firms, television networks, the large advertising agencies must, by their nature, associate artists with rather complex organization. All have a well-reported record of dissonance and conflict between the artists and the rest of the organization . ... Frequently the problem is solved by. removing actors, actresses, scriptwriters, directors, composers, copywriters and creators of advertising commercials from the technostructure . . . and reconstituting them in small independent companies. The large firm then confines itself to providing the appropriate facilities for producing and-more importantly-marketing, exhibiting or airing the product. Similarly painters, sculptors, concert pianists and novelists function, in effect, as one-man firms or, as in the case of rock, dance and folk music groups, as small partnerships and turn to larger organizations to market themselves or their products. [5]

The record music business is another case, in point:

The deliberate creation of a group with a sound and performing style dictated by market research data (such as the Monkees, a television-based American derivative of the Beatles back in the 1960s) has never been more than partly successful. Rock music can be messy to manage.  Holding the artist's hand is often best done by a small company: performers generally want access to the top man. For this reason, the conglomerates tend to devolve record production to subsidiary 'labels' or to small independents for which they .supply marketing, distribution and, often finance. [6]

In high tech and other industries increasing recognition is being given to the need for small entrepreneurial business enterprises to cope with an economic environment characterized by rapid technological change and to manage, or preferably lead, highly educated, skilled and creative personnel.  The arts industry, including the crafts, was the first to adopt such an industrial structure.  It offers numerous opportunities for case studies in the design and operation of small entrepreneurial business enterprise, in adaptation to technological change, and in the use and abuse of creative personnel.


Design Technology

Through time, there has been a progressive expansion in the sources of national income. [7] In this century, technological change has become recognized as the most important source of economic growth.  However, our understanding of technological change has also evolved and changed.  In this regard, it is important to recall that the word technology is derived from the Greek teckhne, meaning art, and logos, meaning reason-thus, 'reasoned art'.  In fact, it was only after the Second World War that the concept of technology as embodying the results of physical science research, usually conducted in universities, became prevalent.

Today, there are three epistemological sources of what is popularly called technological change.  Research in the physical sciences leads to state-of-the-art physical technology, the most obvious form of technological change.  Research in the social sciences and the humanities is part of the search for excellence in organizational technology, i.e. the ways and means available to organize and motivate capital, labour and physical technology.  Just as the physical sciences are the source of physical technology and the social and management sciences the source of organizational technology, the arts are the source of design technology.  Research in the arts, however, does not generally take place in the university.  Rather, it emerges from the professional non-profit fine arts, where art for art's sake is the dominant motivation. [8]

The contribution that design brings to the marketplace can be called 'elegance'.  This term is also used in mathematics, the physical sciences and economics. It expresses Occam's Razor, a guiding principle of the scientific method: the fewest assumptions for the maximum explanation.  Elegance can be defined as 'ingeniously simple and effective'. [9]  This catches the sense of economy as frugality.  Aesthetic design is fundamentally different from technical or functional design-such as a more efficient automobile engine.  Its impact on consumer behaviour involves what has been called 'the best looking thing that works'. [10]  If a consumer does not like the way a product looks, he or she may not even try it.  Similarly, a rich endowment of natural resources does not guarantee that a nation can effectively develop up-scale value-added products.  For example, Canada is the largest timber producing country in the world and yet imports Swedish IKEA furniture.  This is not because Swedish pine is better, but rather due to superior design.


Contribution of Art and Design to Competitiveness

The importance of art and design to international economic competitiveness was first recognized in the English-speaking world over 150 years ago in the United Kingdom with the establishment of the first school of design in 1836. Until 1814 the Statute of Artificers had regulated training and employment of artisans in the craft guild tradition.  In that year, responding to deregulation or laissez-faire economic policies, Parliament abolished the Statute.  In short order the guild system collapsed and the labour market became flooded with unskilled workers.  By 1835 the quality of British production, particularly in textiles, had declined to the point that the British Board of Trade appointed a Select Committee to investigate the problem and recommend remedies.  The Committee called for the direct application of art in manufacturing in order to maintain competitiveness with European rivals.  The result was the creation of schools of design. [11]

Similarly, in 1870, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts became the first American state to make art education a requirement in the public schools, with the passage of the Drawing Act.  The Act originated through pressure from Boston manufacturers who argued that European students were trained in design and drawing and therefore American manufacturers suffered a competitive disadvantage. [12]  Within two decades, the same argument served to introduce art education in Canadian schools. [13]

During this period, the most eminent of contemporary economists, Alfred Lord Marshall, explicitly recognized the importance of art to economic life, even if he questioned the moral results of art education:

Education in art stands on a somewhat different footing from education in hard thinking: for while the latter nearly always strengthens the character, the former not infrequently fails to do this. Nevertheless the development of the artistic faculties of the people is in itself an aim of the very highest importance, and is becoming a chief factor of industrial efficiency . . . Increasingly wealth is enabling people to buy things of all kinds to suit the fancy, with but a secondary regard to their powers of wearing; so that in all kinds of clothing and furniture it is every day more true that it is the pattern which sells the things. [14]

Since the Great Depression of the 1930s, however, the economic importance of design, and therefore the contribution of the arts and crafts to national income, has, in effect, been forgotten.  Partially this reflects the perceived dubious morality of the artist implicit in Marshall's words as well as a traditional unease concerning art identified by political philosophers since the time of Plato:

we must remain firm in our conviction that hymns to the gods and praise of famous men are the only poetry which ought to be admitted into our State. For if you go beyond this and allow the honeyed muse to enter, either in epic or lyric verse, not law and the reason of mankind, which by common consent have ever been deemed best, but pleasure and pain will be the rulers in our State. [15]

It also reflects the pedagogic triumph of the Pestalozzian rationale for art education-to develop creativity and expression-which displaced the economic rationale in the 1930s.16  It also reflects, however, a more general short-sightedness on the part of economists and other social scientists concerning the nature and implications of the Industrial Revolution.  The Industrial Revolution not only transformed economic production, it also transformed consumption-creating phenomena such as advertising, the department store, fashion, and the mail-order catalogue, all of which are critical to the modern economy.17

The lack of study of these phenomena has resulted in little empirical evidence concerning the impact of art on economic competitiveness. But while the impact of improved design has not been quantified, its impact on competitiveness is again being recognized:

There is, then, another aspect to culture, namely good taste, good design and creative innovation, that should enable smaller industrial economies to compete effectively in the world economy . . . In this endeavour, higher quality implies an organic relationship between business and engineering, on the one hand, and design and craftsmanship, on the other . . . High quality products, technologies, plants, homes, cities and locales require the presence of creative artists of all kinds. To increase the long-run supply of artists . . . governments must support the artists and the arts. The long-term return from investment in artists and the arts is real and substantial. In the absence of strong public support of this sector, Canada will not reap these benefits. Governments at all levels should increase their contribution to their respective arts councils. [18]

Today the importance of design in international competitiveness can also be seen in the United States and Canada, where higher quality consumer products tend to come from abroad, particularly from Europe, even after a 40 per cent depreciation in the value of the dollar since 1985.  Why?  Given that capital plant and equipment in North America is as good as that in Europe, the answer is not superior European production technology.  In fact, it results from a feedback between skilled consumption and production, resulting in superior design.  As noted by Tibor Scitovsky in his path-breaking book, The Joyless Economy, the North American

buyer of European imports benefits from the high standards which careful European shoppers' finicky demand imposes on their producers; he does not have to be a careful shopper himself.. In other words, he can be what is known as a free rider, enjoying the benefits of other people's careful shopping without paying his share of the cost, in terms of time and effort,' that careful and aggressive shopping involves: That explains why producers find it unprofitable to cater to his demand by trying to out-compete high quality imports, despite the often exorbitant price they fetch. Consumers seem willing to pay a high price, in terms of money, for the reputation of European imports; that is we pay cash to obtain high quality without having to pay for it in terms of careful shopping. [19]

When the design advantage of European producers, and increasingly that of Japanese producers of consumer electronics, is combined with the advantage of offshore or Third World producers, then the North American producer is left with a narrowing mid-range market.  This combination of design and wage disadvantages may explain the apparent deindustrialization of North America.  Improved productivity, through robotics and other new technologies, may lower costs of production, but only improved design will secure for North American producers part of the growing up-scale consumer market.

The importance of enhanced design is becoming apparent to some major North American corporations including SCM, Teledyne, Black & Decker, and J. C. Penney.  This change reflects a 'bottom-line' awareness that if a consumer does not like the way a product looks, then he or she may never get close enough to find out how well it performs, and therefore there is no chance for a sale. Growing awareness of this basic principle is resulting in increased recognition of the importance of industrial design and the role it plays in helping companies meet sales and marketing goals. [20]  More and more marketers are now enlisting the aid of design consultancies or setting up their own in-house design departments.  From where do design skills come?  They come from the practice of art.


Quaternary Sector

Changes in physical technology resulting from research in the physical sciences, improvements in organizational technology resulting from social and management science research, and improvements in design resulting from advances in the arts are now major sources of growth in national income. [21]  Advances in physical, organizational and design technology are legally protected by intellectual property rights legislation including: patents (emerging from the physical sciences); registered industrial design (emerging from research in the physical sciences and the arts); trademarks (emerging from the arts), and copyright (emerging from research in the physical and social sciences, humanities and the arts).  Managerial and industrial know-how also falls into this category of abstract goods and services.

At any point in time, there exists a stock of capital and labour which embodies current and past technical and educational attainment.  Advances in physical, organizational and design technologies are flows that become embodied in new products, industrial processes and equipment, organizational methods, styles and fashions.  In dollar terms, research, both scientific and artistic, involves a tiny amount of resources compared to the existing capital stock and labour force.  However, its role in economic growth is that of a catalyst stimulating changes and improvements in the quality and efficiency of capital and labour. [22]  The information economy is, in fact, based on the buying, selling and licensing of abstract intellectual property rights which result from advances in physical, organizational and design technologies.

At present such abstract goods and services constitute what can be called the quaternary or fourth sector of the economy which is poorly reported in the national accounts:

Simply put, it is the expansion of knowledge, skills, imagination, ideas and insights of working people that creates the margins from which physical capital is accumulated, leading to productive investments to further accumulation of capital . [23]

The importance of such abstract goods and services can be demonstrated in two ways.  First, in external trade a proxy for their importance is invisible exports.  In the United States, for example, it was invisible exports that minimized the impact of enormous price increases in petroleum imports during the 1970s and 1980s:

These 'invisible exports', preponderately the yield from human capacity, particularly organizational and managerial capabilities, nearly offset the increased expenditure for petroleum imports that put the foreign-exchange account $7 billion in the red . [24]

In the domestic economy; the importance of abstract goods and services, and more specifically, the contribution of art to national income, can be demonstrated by the size and nature of the arts industries.

There are four distinct segments of contemporary art, namely the fine arts, the commercial arts, the amateur arts and the applied arts.  In each, the creative source is the individual artist.  The fine arts are a professional activity which serves art for art's sake just as knowledge for knowledge for knowledge's sake is the rationale for pure research in the sciences. [25]  The commercial arts are a profit-making activity which places profit before excellence. The amateur arts are a recreational activity that serves to recreate the ability of a worker to do his or her job, or a leisure activity that serves to self-actualize a citizen's creative potential, and thereby permits him or her to more fully appreciate life.  The applied arts involve, as their name suggests, application of art in the day-to-day activities of all businesses and the public sector, such as interior and product design, illustrating art, and copy-writing and editing. 

Each art activity is intimately interrelated.  The amateur arts, in actualizing the talents and abilities of the individual citizen, provide an educated audience and initial training for the fine and the commercial arts.  The fine arts, in the pursuit of artistic excellence as an end in and of itself, provide research and development for the commercial and the applied arts.  The commercial arts, in the pursuit of profit, provide the means to market and distribute the best of the amateur and the fine arts to an audience large enough and in a form suited to earn a profit.  The applied arts borrow talent and technique from the other three forms of artistic endeavour and apply the experiential knowledge in all non-arts industries.  Collectively the fine, commercial and amateur arts make up the arts industries which include advertising, broadcasting, crafts, motion pictures, performing and visual arts, publishing, sound, and video recording.  Compared to all manufacturing industries, the Canadian arts industry in 1985 was the largest with respect to employment, the third largest with respect to salaries and wages of more than $3.8 billion and the ninth largest with revenues of $11.3 billion or 2.4 per cent of GNP.  It is important to note that between -1982 and -1985, the rank order of the arts industry's salaries and wages jumped from seventh to third, indicating the growing employment importance of the arts in the post-modern economy. [26]

Perhaps the most significant economic contribution of art to the economy is employment.  Between 1971 and 1987 the Canadian labour force grew by 39 per cent.  The arts labour force-that is individuals using arts- and crafts-related skills in their day-today jobs-increased by 74 per cent. In fact, almost 6o per cent of all artists, employed full-time as artists, were employed outside the arts industries in 1981 than were employed within them.  The majority of artists in fact work in other industries, as designers, illustrators and decorators.  Their skills are used in all primary, secondary and tertiary industries.  Artistic skills and talent are like scientific skills, they pervade and permeate all sectors of the contemporary economy.  Taken together the arts industries and the applied arts employed more than 414,000 workers in 1981, or nearly 4 per cent of the total labour force, making artistic employment larger than the primary agricultural labour force and larger than total federal government employment in Canada. [27]


Demographic Revolution and the Post-Modern Economy

There are three fundamental demographic changes that are contributing to growth in arts and crafts participation and the emergence of the arts and crafts as a significant factor of economic production.  These are: rising levels of education, increasing, participation of women and the ageing of the population.


The average level of education has risen dramatically in the last generation. In 1961, approximately 11 per cent of adult Canadians had some postsecondary education compared to almost one-third in 1985.  By the end of this century, it is projected to be almost 40 per cent. [28]  Studies conducted around the world, and across Canada, indicate that the fine arts audience is characterized by high levels of education. [29]  A proxy for the size of the fine arts audience is the number of adult Canadians who have at least some post-secondary education.  Accordingly, the fine arts audience no longer constitutes a small statistical elite.  Rather it represents a significant plurality of the adult population at present, and by the year 2000 it will represent almost half of all taxpayers, taxpayers who are the most socially active, politically aware, and economically powerful members of society.


The second significant demographic trend during the last generation has been the entry of women into the economic and political life of the community.  Women in North America have traditionally been considered the carriers or guardians of culture.  In fact, next to level of education, sex is the best demographic indicator of arts participation in North America. Women tend to be more exposed to, and involved in arts and creative activity in childhood than men, thus forming an adult taste for the arts. [30]  Accordingly, sports stadia appeal to a part of the population which, at least in relative terms, is of declining political and economic importance-that is, young males.  Opera houses, galleries, and other cultural facilities should form the basis of the political edifice complex if politicians wish to appeal to the increasingly important women's constituency.  The increasing role of women in the economy and politics will, in and of itself, lead to increasing political and economic recognition of arts and culture. 


It is widely known that the demographic structure of Western countries is being fundamentally altered by the ageing of the baby boom generation.  It is not generally recognized, however, that after education and sex, age is the best demographic indicator of participation in most arts-related activities.  The older one grows the more likely one is to participate in arts-related activities, at least up to retirement age. [31]  This trend will, of course, be reinforced as the highly educated baby-boom generation of the 1950s and 1960s becomes the geriatric boom after the year 2000.

These fundamental demographic changes are also having a dramatic impact on the nature of the economy which, in turn, has a relationship with the arts.  Demographic changes are altering the consumption habits of the population, and the marketing behaviour of producers in four ways.  First, there is the changing nature of advertising.  Second, there is the increasing role of the arts in consumer research.  Third, there is now near universal access to the fashions and styles of previous historical periods, a phenomenon which has been called the 'ReDecade'. [32]  Fourth, there is the emergence of the narrowcast as opposed to the mass market.


Within the ecology of capitalist realism, advertising is the lubricant of the market economy.  And advertising, to a great extent, is the application of the literary, media, performing and visual arts to sell goods and services.  Actors, dancers, singers, musicians, graphic artists, copy-writers, and editors are employed to sell everything from fruit to nuts, from cars to computers, from beer to toilet paper.  In fact, the production cost of a one-minute commercial on national American television equals or exceeds the cost of an hour-long episode of Dallas.  In some cases, the advertising expenditure of major corporations such as Proctor and Gamble accounts for more than one-third of total production costs of such undifferentiated consumer products as soap and shampoo.  These companies spend millions in advertising to differentiate their products, one from the other, even though in objective scientific terms there may be little to choose between them.

From where does advertising talent and technique come?  From the arts.  Thus with respect to design and advertising, the arts are analogous to research and development in the physical sciences.  The arts in the post-modern economy are no longer just a symbol, but also a source of national wealth. In fact, more artists work outside the arts industry than inside. The majority of artists work as craftspersons, illustrating and graphic artists, designers, copywriters and editors, and decorators for companies in sectors as varying as manufacturing, finance, insurance and the retail trade. [33]

The fine arts also play an increasingly direct role in the advertising and marketing strategies of corporations.  The up-scale nature of the arts audience (with its high levels of education and income) is an attractive market for many corporations.  Corporations increasingly sponsor fine arts activities, not as charity but as a major marketing technique.  In this regard a survey by the Institute of Donations and Public Affairs Research (IDPAR) showed that 47 per cent of corporations sponsored sports events, but 59 per cent sponsored arts-related activities in 1984. [34]  Sponsorship reflects the correspondence of a corporate target market and the arts audience.  Sponsorships are made from ,public relations, not from donations budgets.  Problems have, however, been reported.  Specifically, the control required by commercial sponsors to ensure that public relations objectives are achieved, may, from time to time, clash with the artistic objectives of an arts organization.  No dollar figures are currently available concerning the scale of corporate sponsorship of arts-related events and activities.

Consumer Research

Beyond the role of the arts in advertising and marketing, trends in consumer research also suggest that the arts are playing an increasingly significant role in consumer research.  Many researchers have begun to question the dominance of the information processing model in consumer research.  This model essentially views consumer behaviour as a question of a consumer with a problem searching for information concerning the best product or service to solve his or her problem.  This model, however, is increasingly seen as neglecting important consumption phenomena such as playful leisure activities, sensory pleasures, daydreams, aesthetic enjoyment, and emotional responses. Thus consumption is increasingly seen as involving a flow of fantasies, feelings and fun. This perspective regards consumption as a primarily subjective state of consciousness with a variety of symbolic meanings, hedonic responses, and aesthetic criteria. [35]

Drawing upon the pioneering work of Holbrook at Columbia University, one can identify six differences between traditional consumer research and what is known as consumer aesthetics.  These differences serve to highlight how the arts can enhance our understanding of consumer behaviour. [36]  First, traditional consumer research focuses on the buying behaviour or purchasing decisions of consumers at the expense of studying the consumption experience.  By contrast, almost everyone accepts that aesthetic consumption entails an appreciative experience quite different from conventional market behaviour.  This experience may range from simple pleasure to profound responses comparable to self-transcending states of spiritual ecstasy. [37]  

Second, conventional consumer theory generally assumes a means-end relationship between the purchase of a commodity and some end objective. By contrast, aesthetic experience is intrinsically motivated and produces intrinsic values as an end in itself, and pursued for its own sake. [38]  

Third, consumer research generally views buying behaviour as a rational decision-making process that begins with a desired goal leading to an assessment of the efficacy of alternative means which then leads to the intentional act of buying a given product or service.  By contrast, aesthetic experience fits an a-rational paradigm of emotional reaction involving appreciative responses.  Though emotions may occasionally be brought under intentional self-control, they generally reflect non-intentional responses to uncontrolled aspects of the environment.  Such responses can be characterized as being moved.  Furthermore, an emotive response involves not only a reaction to cognitive elements but also physiological changes, expressive behaviour, and phenomenological feelings. [39] 

Fourth, conventional research focuses on external factors affecting the exchange relationship, such as price, advertising, distribution, support services, and consumer demographics.  By contrast, consumer aesthetics focuses on design factors internal to the product or event of interest, such as tempo, or complexity in visual design. 

Fifth, traditional consumer research tends to use field-survey research to study the link between brand choices and external marketing variables, such as price and packaging.  For example, on the shelf of a grocery store does red packaging sell better than blue?  By contrast, aesthetic responses can best be studied by techniques of laboratory experimentation, many of which were developed by psychologists. [40] 

Finally, consumer: research, as generally practised, tends to view a product or service as consisting of a series of distinct but additive components, such as colour, weight, size, etc.  By contrast, consumer aesthetics provide a fertile ground in which to study interactive or configural phenomena.  Artworks are universally regarded as Gestalts, in which all parts interact to produce a sense of organic wholeness or unity-in-variety.  Hence research on consumer aesthetics must focus not just on additive cues, but also on the overall impact of a product. [41]

Narrowcast Marketplace

The emergence of the narrowcast- market is the most significant marketing development of the 1970s and 1980s.  The growth of numerically small, but economically viable markets has resulted from an unprecedented average level of education; an unparalleled division and specialization of labour, and an unrivalled degree of urbanization.  If the industrial revolution produced standardization throughout society, then what Alvin Toffler has called the 'third wave' is reversing the process.  There is a rising level of diversity, a de-nassification of the market-place, with more sizes, models and styles, and a de-massification of tastes, political views and values . [42]

Fragmentation of the mass market has had significant implications for producers, implications which have been driven home by two recent recessions, with their stranglehold on consumer spending.  This forced producers to try to understand what made the domestic market tick.  They soon discovered that demographic and lifestyle changes had delivered a death blow to mass marketing and brand loyalty.  A North American economy that once shared homogeneous buying tastes had splintered into many different consumer groups-each with special and differing needs and interests. [43]  Among First World nations, the emergence of the narrowcast marketplace can also be identified with two developments: one technologic, the other demographic.  First, there is the introduction of cable and pay television services which has fragmented the traditional, lowest common denominator broadcasting systems of North America during the last decade, and which promises to do the same to European broadcasting in this decade.  It is from this development that the term narrowcasting has been derived.  The most developed form of narrowcasting, however, takes the form of direct mail services.


Another change in consumption behaviour has resulted from the introduction of new technologies in combination with demographic change.  Through new recording technologies, especially video tape, consumers now have nearly universal visual access to the styles and tastes of all historic periods, at least as presented on television and in motion pictures.  Does one want to watch the gangster movies or musicals of the 1930s?  Or does one want to witness the French Revolution or Moses on the mountain?  Does one want to replay it, time after time, or erase it to capture the images and sounds of another time and place? 

This access to the fashions and styles of historic periods has produced what Thomas Shales has called 'the ReDecade', a decade without a distinctive style of its own; a decade characterized by the pervasive stylistic presence of all previous periods of history.  The impact of this phenomenon on consumer behaviour is, at least in the short term, confusion and disorientation. Time has now become a significant dimension of consumer behaviour.  As Shales notes:

It does seem obvious that here in the ReDecade . . . the possibilities for becoming disoriented in time are greater than they have ever been before. And there's another thing that's greater than it has ever been before: accessibility of our former selves, of moving pictures of us and the world as we and it were five, ten, fifteen years ago. No citizens of any other century have ever been provided so many views of themselves as individuals or as a society. [44]

It is not yet clear what will be the long term impact of the ReDecade on consumer behaviour. It is likely, however, that there will be a growing market for historic fashions, period piece furniture and reproductions as well as other consumer cultural durables.


Post-Modern Market for the Crafts

From the foregoing it is clear that the emerging economy will be one of quality, and that this characteristic will determine the success or failure of First World, newly industrialized, and regional or provincial economies.  Accordingly, quality control becomes a critical issue for the crafts. In the past, such control was exercised by the craft guilds and the masters.  Today in Canada it is exercised, to a greater or lesser extent, by international, national and provincial craft councils.  It would appear, however, that control by provincial or national councils has not extended to collective enforcement of intellectual property rights inherent in the crafts including copyright and registered industrial design.  Furthermore, market research by the Crafts Councils in Canada appears to be focused on the direct retail market, i.e., the craft store. While critically important in its own right, street sales are only one of several retail and wholesale methods. available to the crafts in a post-modern economy. 

Intellectual Property Rights 

The most important set of laws affecting the arts and crafts as well as the emerging information economy is intellectual property legislation. [45]  Like other forms of law, its nature and impact on economic behaviour varies according to national experience.  The increasing importance of intellectual property reflects the gradual but general evolution of legal theory to account for more and more abstract forms of property such as Good Will and Equity in a limited liability corporation.


In the first instance, the results of the creative efforts of craftspersons become embodied in artifacts subject to industrial design or copyright protection. Copyright and other forms of intellectual property legislation are justified as a protection of, and incentive to, human creativity which otherwise could be used freely by others.  In return, the state expects creators to make their work available to society as a whole, and that a market will be created in which such work can be bought and sold.  But while the state wishes to encourage creativity, it does not want to foster harmful market power.  Accordingly, the state builds in limitations to the rights granted to the creator.  Such limitations embrace both time and space.  Rights are granted for a fixed period of time, and protect only the fixation of human creativity in material form.  It is intellectual property rights which form the legal foundation for the information economy.  It is important to understand, however, that copyright and other forms of intellectual property rights do not protect ideas, but rather the physical form in which they are expressed.

Emphasis in copyright on fixation in material form highlights the relationship between Innisian analysis [46] and Carl Sagan's extra-somatic knowledge [47], i.e., the integrity of cultural messages in any transmitting medium, whether durable or mobile, depends on the nature of the medium of communication and the power of the State to enforce the integrity of intergenerational transmission.  In pre-literate societies it was the mnemonics of rite and ritual that encoded extra-somatic knowledge in oral communications media.  The ability to record knowledge and maintain its integrity in the modern world is a function of technological change in communications hardware and enforcement of the abstract form of property called copyright and other intellectual property rights in the information economy. [48]

Origin and Impact 

To serve as an example of the origin and impact of intellectual property rights, copyright will be examined with respect to variations in national experience and its impact on industrial organization.  In French-speaking and most Western European countries, droits d'auteur or author's rights are the core of what, in English-speaking countries, is called copyright.  Such rights are rooted in the Republican Revolution of the late eighteenth century, and the movement for the rights of man.  Following the Communist revolutions of the twentieth century, the case in the Communist Bloc is similar yet different to that in Western Europe. While the moral rights of the creator are recognized through a one-time award, all subsequent rights revert to the state.  Communist countries are not generally members of the international conventions concerning intellectual property.

Moral rights are not, however, the historical root of copyright in the English-speaking world.  Rather, in the fifteenth century, with the introduction of the printing press, Tudor monarchs began to grant to approved printers the right to copy approved works, i.e. copyright.  Thus, the roots of copyright are censorship and feudal grants of commercial privilege. [49]   These residuals of feudal and crown law did not vanish with the advent of democracy.  On the contrary, they survived in attenuated form to plague. democratic law and government.  Obsolete in practice, they still influence the spirit of the law. [50]

In English-speaking countries, therefore, copyright and industrial design rights are the legal foundation of industrial organization of the arts and crafts.  In European countries, author's rights are intended as a reward for creativity.  Royalties probably play a more significant role in the economic status of the European artist than in the English-speaking world. The question does, however, require further research.  Furthermore, in native or aboriginal cultures, the concept of native copyright, while not yet incorporated into statute, is based on yet another tradition.  Specifically, among native peoples, the rights to a cultural work such as a song, story or icon do not belong to an individual but rather to the tribe or to one individual in each generation, generally through matrilinear inheritance. Even craft skills are often passed generation to generation.  The alleged pirating and $250 million sale in the Asia Pacific Rim of a traditional design used in hand-knitted Kwakiutl sweaters by the Japanese demonstrates the unprotected nature of native and tribal copyright in the international market-place. How to create and enforce native copyright will, I believe, become an increasingly important question of international concern.

The ability to exploit rights, vertically and horizontally, is a major source of national wealth and the focus of international copyright and design piracy.  Copyright involves a range of rights including the right to market a work in a given country.  If a copyright is sold or licensed in all countries and all geographic markets then the copyright is said to be exhausted.  But beyond geography, copyright and industrial design include the right to adapt a work from one form into another, e.g. from a novel into a play into a motion picture.

Parallel Rights

Traditional intellectual property legislation is subject to international convention.  Canada is required to extend national treatment to foreign citizens, both individual and corporate.  In fact, traditional copyright forms the legal foundation for industrial organization of the arts industry.  It is this principle which is driving the American negotiating position in the current negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). US concern is also visible in recent pressures brought to bear on Canada, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Singapore concerning the enforcement of internationally recognized intellectual property rights. 

There exists, however, a class of intellectual property rights not covered by convention (so-called parallel rights).  Such rights including droite de suite (i.e. rights of following sale for visual artists) have been created in the US States of California and New York and declared constitutional by the courts, even though applicable only to citizens of those states.  Such rights are a means by which the Government of Canada can still create incentives restricted to Canadians, such as Public Lending Rights.  Similar rights, targeted at Canadian artists and craftspersons, can be created by the federal or provincial governments so long as they are not incorporated in the actual Copyright Act itself.

Furthermore, contrary to the popular myth that the information economy will involve the free flow of information, the meaning of the information economy is the monetarization of information. [51] The legal instruments by which revenue flows of the information economy will be generated involve the sale, licence or gift of intellectual property rights.  As in the Industrial Revolution, Crafts Councils as modern guilds must choose how to adapt, adjust and evolve, given the information revolution.


Alternative Market Strategies

There are a number of emerging post-modern retail and wholesale markets for the crafts.  In many cases, these opportunities are based on the end of the old dogma 'form follows function'.  In an age of computer chips, it is no longer necessary for form to follow function.  The way an artifact looks is becoming increasingly distant from the function that it fulfils.  Thus, as Lord Marshall said, "It is every day more true that it is the pattern which sells the things." [52]   To successfully exploit the emerging markets, however, it will be necessary to develop or license intellectual property rights to obtain:

  • State of the art in high-tech methods to minimize costs of small production-runs relative to mass manufacturing;

  • Excellence in organization and motivation of the crafts labour force relative to other sectors including competing industries and political economic interest groups; and

  • Elegance in design appropriate to one or more of the highly differentiated narrowcast markets increasingly characteristic of consumption in the postmodern economy.

In general, there are three alternative strategies all of which, to a greater or lesser extent, are being pursued today.  First, some adopt a strategy of defensive resistance, of sitting-out the revolution.  This leads to marginalization, as other interested parties (e.g. dealers rather than creators) collect the royalties.  

Second, some Crafts Councils adopt a strategy of collaboration with private and public sector sponsors and simply let members establish whatever arrangements they can, within the limits of individual bargaining power.  This leads to a. gradual whittling away of membership:. as individual creators are drawn into other industries or modes of production. 

Third, some Crafts Councils adopt a strategy of creative offence giving explicit recognition to the central role of the crafts in the information economy and establish appropriate terms of trade with the public and private sectors to ensure the autonomy of the crafts movement.  Such terms could include lobbying for creation of provincial or national parallel rights such as exclusive labeling or registration rights.



In the emerging post-modern economy, traditional weaknesses of the arts and crafts are becoming strengths which promise a prosperous and productive twenty-first century for Canadian craftspersons and artists.  Driven by a demographic revolution that has produced a population with rapidly rising levels of education, increasing participation of women and an ageing demographic profile, the new economy will be one in which quality and design are critical factors in international economic competitiveness.  Within this new economy, the concept of technological change is being revised, as physical science research which leads to state-of-the-art technology, is recognized as one of three sources of improved productivity, social science research generates the organizational technology needed to motivate both workers and management in order to attain excellence, and research in the arts and crafts, which generally takes place in the non-profit professional fine arts, leads to elegance in design and advertising.

The market for the crafts in the post-modern economy is increasingly defined by intellectual property rights inherent in creativity.  Both copyright and registered industrial designs are the legal foundation for industrial organization of the crafts. Given the growing importance of such rights, there are three alternative strategies. First, in some crafts, a strategy of defensive resistance is adopted.  This leads to marginalization as other interested parties collect the royalties.  Second, some adopt a strategy of collaboration with private and public sector sponsors and simply let members establish whatever arrangements they can, within the limits of individual bargaining power.  This leads to a whittling away of membership as creators are drawn into other industries or modes of production.  Third, some Crafts Councils adopt a strategy of creative offence giving explicit recognition to the central role of the crafts in the information economy and establish appropriate terms of trade with the public and private sectors to ensure the autonomy of the crafts movement.


1 The United Nations General Assembly, The World Decade for Cultural Development 1988-1997, The United Nations, New York, 6 December 1986.

2 H. H. Chartrand, 'Subjectivity in an Era of Scientific Imperialism: Shadows in the Age of Reason', The Journal of Arts Management and Law, Vol. 18, no. 3, Autumn 1988, pp. 5-29.

3 Proceedings of the First International Conference on Living Traditions, Faculty of Education, McGill University, Montreal 1989 (pending).

4 H. H. Chartrand, 'The Crafts in a Post-Modern Economy', Journal of Cultural Economics, Vol. 12, no. 2, December 1988, pp. 39-66.

5 J. K. Galbraith, Economics and the Public Purpose, New American Library, Toronto, 1973, p. 60.

6 The Economist, 'The notes that come in wads', 7 June 1980, pp. 100-101.

7 H. H. Chartrand, 'The Contribution of Art to National Income', in Cultural Economics: A Canadian Perspective '88, Chartrand, Hendon, MacCaughey (eds.), Association for Cultural Economics, University of Akron, Akron, 1989, pp. 31-42.

8 H. H. Chartrand, 'Cultural Economics of Arts Funding: Five Variations on a Theme', Introduction to Paying for the Arts, Chartrand, Hendon, Horowitz (eds.), University of Akron, 1987, pp. 3-13.

9 J. B. Sykes, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 311.

10  D. Cwi, suggested in .conversation with the author, Cultural Policy Institute, Baltimore, November 1985.

11 L. Savage, 'The History of Art Education and Social History: Text and Context in a British Case of Art School History', in B. Wilson, H. Hoffa (eds.) The History of Art Education: Proceedings from the Penn State Conference, Pennsylvania State University, 1985,
pp. 94-7.

12 K. Freedman, 'Art Education and the Development of the Academy: The Ideological Origins of Curriculum Theory', in Wilson and Hoffa, op: Cit.,, p. 21.

13 F. G. Chalmers, 'South Kensington and the Colonies II: The Influence of Walter Smith in Canada', in Wilson and Hoffa, op. cit.

14 A. Marshall, Principles of Economics, 8th edn. (1920), English Language Book Society London, 1969, PP. 177-8.

15 Plato, The Republic: Book X, in Great Books of the Western World, Encyclopedia Britannica, Chicago, 1952.

16 E. Betenas, 'Is There an Ideal Model for Arts Education?', in Wilson and Hoffa, op. cit., pp. 99-lol.

17 G. McCracken, Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Services, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1988, p. 4.

18 Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development prospect for Canada, Report, Vol. II, Minister of Supply and Services, Ottawa, Canada, 1985, pp. 115-16.

19 T. Scitovsky, The Joyless Economy, Oxford University Press, 1976, p. 178.

20 R. Skolnik, 'The Rise and Rise of Product Design', Sales and Marketing Management, 7 October 1985, p. 46.

21 E. Shapiro, Macroeconomic Analysis, Harcourt, Brace & World, NY, 1970, p. 495.

22 Ibid., pp. 490-1.
23 E. Ginzberg and G. Vojta, 'The Service Sector of the U.S. Economy', Scientific American, March 1981.

24 Ibid.

25 H. H. Chartrand, Social Science and Humanities Research Impact Indicators, Futures, Ottawa, 1980.

26 Research & Evaluation, Selected Arts Research Statistics, 8th edition, The Canada Council, December 1988, pp. 5-17.

27 Research & Evaluation, A Canadian Dictionary and Selected Statistical Profile of Arts Employment 1981, The Canada Council, Ottawa, January 1984.

28 Research & Evaluation, op. cit., December 1988, p. 2.

29 C. McCaughey, A Survey of Arts Audience Studies: A Canadian Perspective 1967 to 1984, Research & Evaluation, Canada Council, September 1984.

30 Ibid., p, 4.

31 Ibid., p. 6.

32 T. Shales, 'The ReDecade', Esquire, March, 1986. 

33 Research & Evaluation, op. cit., January 1984.

34 R. A. Hopkinson, 'Corporate Donations and Sponsorship of the Arts', in The Arts: Corporations and Foundations, Arts Research Seminar 4, Research & Evaluation, The Canada Council, Ottawa, November 1985, p. 61.

35 M. B. Holbrook and E. C. Hirschman, 'The Experiential Aspects of Consumption: Consumer Fantasies, Feeling and Fun', Journal of Consumer Research, September 1982.

36 M. B. Holbrook, 'Progress and Problems in Research on Consumer Esthetics', Fourth International Conference on Cultural Economics and Planning, Avignon, May 1986.

37 Ibid., p. 4.

38 Ibid., p. 5.

39 Ibid., p. 7.

40 Ibid., p. 9.

41 Ibid., p. 11.

42 A. Toffler, 'Toffler Sees Industrial Breakup', Globe & Mail, 3 May 1979, B-2.

43 'Marketing: The New Priority-A Splintered Mass 48 Chartrand, op. cit., 1987.
Market Forces Companies to Target Their Products', 49 B. MacDonald, Copyright in Context: The Challenge of
Business Week, 21 November 1983.

44 Shales, op. cit., p. 72.

45 H. H. Chartrand, A Guide to Copyright Reform in Canada: A Cross Reference of Proposed Revisions to the Canadian
Copyright Act 1977 to 1987, Research & Evaluation, The Canada Council, Ottawa 1987.

46 H. A. Innis, Empire and Communication, University of
Toronto Press, Toronto, 195o, and Bias of Communications, University of Toronto Press, 1951.

47 C. Sagan, The Dragons of Eden, Ballantine, New York, 1977.

48 Chartrand, op. cit., 1987.

49 B. MacDonald, Copyright in Context: The Challenge of Change, Economic Council of Canada, Ottawa, January 1971, pp. 14-16.

50. H. M. Gray, 'Reflections on Innis and Institutional Economics', in Culture, Communication and Dependency: The Tradition of H. A. Innis, W. Melody, L. Salter, P. Heyer (eds.), Ablex Publishing Corp., Norwood N.J., 1981, p. 108.

51. A. Naimark, 'Legislative wrong doesn't make a (copy)right', The Globe & Mail, 6 May 1988, p. A-7.

52 Marshall, op. cit.


next page