With twenty years’ experience within the arts sector, Nicky has worked with government bodies, local authorities, businesses, organisations, schools, practitioners and artists. Her role as Learning and Skills Director at the Crafts Council UK spans participation, education, innovation and business growth – championing the benefits of hands-on making, testing new ways of working and contributing to debate with decision-makers. The crisis in craft education – outlined in Our Future In the Making, Crafts Council’s Education Manifesto – is responded to through formal education initiatives, the celebration of everyday making activities, and our youth engagement strategy, Young Craft Citizens. She has evolved the gold-standard Hothouse programme into the foundation of a wider business development programme that now offers 1:1 surgeries, events and resources nationally and internationally. Her team leads on cutting edge partnerships exploring innovation and the sector networking through Craft UK – both areas bringing together people to collaborate and form new ways of working. Alongside her role on the board of World Crafts Council Europe, she is a Chair of pioneering visual arts organisation Intoart and sews in her spare time.  




Ana Cristina Mendes holds a Law Degree from the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra, is a Postgraduate in Communications and media law by FDUC, with training in Public Management by INA, I.P. She has been with CEARTE – Professional Training Center for Crafts and Heritage since 1991 in the Training Department and as a Legal Advisor. She became Deputy Director of CEARTE in 2018 and was the general coordinator of the Vocational training department since 1998. Ana Cristina is also the Coordinator of the work team responsible for the design of Crafts training curricula integrated into the National Catalogue of Qualifications. She is a member of the work team of the National Legal certification system for the crafts sector and the National Sectorial Council for Qualification – Crafts, and Jewellery. She is co-author of the Study “The Sector of Craft Activities in Portugal”/ 2006: Chapter IV.She has extensive experience in the preparation of training projects for applications for European Programs and the coordination and monitoring of transnational training projects. Ana Cristina is also the author of several articles and communications within the thematic Crafts and Vocational Training.




In 2016, Elizabeth Miroshnichenko was appointed General Secretary of the Handicraft Chamber of Ukraine (HCU), where she has been working since 2008. In 2009, thanks to the support of the President of Ukraine, Elizabeth has joined a team of reformers to reshape the Ukrainian craft sector. Until 2015, she has also led a team cooperating with the State Committee for Entrepreneurship and with the Cabinet of Ministers, thus becoming co-author of reform measures in the development of an Action Plan for the development of crafts in Ukraine, which was approved by the Government of Ukraine, as well as becoming co-author of a Draft Law concept on Crafts Activity and of the draft Law proper. Since 2010, Elizabeth has been participating in international working groups of the Germany-based Hanseatic Parliament, a network that HCU has eventually become a member of. Moreover, she was also authorised to establish dialogue and interaction with UEAPME (now ‘SMEunited’) in Brussels, an organisation officially recognised as social partner of the European Commission.While studying the experience of craft and SME development in EU countries, Elizabeth has led a team of dedicated craft trade analysts. As a result of her work, HCU first became an observer to SMEunited, and finally its member. In 2020, Elizabeth became a member of the Cultural Council of the Michelangelo Foundation.




Marion Poortvliet is founder and director of Crafts Council Nederland, the platform for artistic crafts where heritage and innovation unite and where craftsmanship is nurtured and passed on in an innovative way to new generations.Marion is trained as a designer at the fashion department of ArtEZ University of the Arts and educated as a social entrepreneur at the University of Amsterdam. She is associated as a lecturer and educational developer at the Utrecht University of the Arts.





Elton Micallef is the CEO of the Malta Crafts Foundation. After 11 years as an educator, Elton moved on to become an integral part of the team that implemented the first interactive Science and Technology Centre in Malta, ESPLORA. He then formed part of the establishment’s management, leading the education team during its first years of operation with the aim of bringing science closer to the general public. Elton then joined INDIS Malta, the entity responsible for the management of industrial estates. While his main focus
was on the entity’s business development, he was also the project leader for the ERDF-funded regeneration of the Ta’ Qali Artisan Village. Upon completion of the project, Mr Micallef was appointed to manage the Malta Crafts Foundation in its efforts to revive the artisan sector in Malta. Elton has vast experience in project management and visitor attractions and his recent work as CEO of the
Malta Crafts Foundation has resulted in better awareness and promotion of the sector, improved collaboration with all involved entities in the creative sector and better training opportunities for artisans.




David Places Balsalobre is a seasoned professional in the development, growth, and exploration of crafts, art, design and local cultures and is head of Internationalization and Cultural Promotion for the Catalan Crafts Council in Barcelona. David has developed and implemented a powerful cultural program to highlight the synergies between craftsmanship, design, and contemporary art. This program elevates and changes the perception of crafts in society, debunking the collective perception that craftsmanship is a skill of the rural world. David has managed and curated almost 200 exhibitions in Europe and beyond and has imported several crafts shows to Barcelona from around the world. As a liaison between craftsmen, artists and designers, David enables collaborations which develop new products relevant to today’s consumer needs. This cross-pollination of skills and creativity has, in return, expanded the craftmanship presence in prestigious spaces such as art galleries and museums and high-level markets of other industries such as jewelry, textiles and interior design.