It’s always difficult/fascinating to talk about money, and, like sex, people do not always reveal all. So it was with some scepticism that I read about a recent survey conducted over a period of three years by Cockpit Arts. This concluded that the average income for a potter was £13,000. Cockpit Arts ‘the UK’s only creative business incubators for designer-makers’, is one of the largest providers of communal workshop space in London, with buildings in Holborn and Deptford. It offers workshop space mostly to makers at the start of their careers, though some tend to remain. The studios house makers involved in thirteen different craft disciplines, with over a third working in textiles and a fifth in ceramics. Some 30% work full-time, the rest taking part-time employment such as shop or bar work, teaching, lecturing or designing. Although 50% of businesses report a turnover of between £10-50,000, ceramic businesses have the lowest turnover at £13,000.
What is not clear from the survey is whether the £13,000 represented full- or part-time commitment, but in London, while a possible ‘living wage’, it is modest. Few potters survive on potting alone – though some do and do so handsomely – and few enter the crafts to get rich quick. Notoriously, income from making tends to be limited, and potters eke out a living from their often hard work. The question of finance is one still shrouded in mystery and clarification would be welcome. The world, as they say, does not owe potters (or any other maker) a living, but it would be good to know that they do not starve.