Travel & Tourism Awards 2021 Page 19 LUX 2021 Travel & Tourism Awards Arts & Crafts Tours offers personalised, meticulously crafted small group tours of 19th and 20th century art and architecture in Europe and America. We speak to Founder, Elaine Ellis, about the tours she provides and how the Covid-19 pandemic will not told her back! Arts & Crafts Tours Best Bespoke Arts Tours Operator – USA Dec20281 For the last 25 years plus, Arts & Crafts Tours has been introducing clients to the history of the Arts & Crafts Movement where it began – in Britain. The intimate, bespoke tours take clients primarily into private homes and collections where they are guided and hosted by the owners, and some of the most knowledgeable scholars, and into public museums outside of regular hours or behind the scenes. While the majority of tours are in Britain, Arts & Crafts Tours has also offered tours to France, Romania, Scandinavia, and Ireland where it examines the interaction between the architects, artists and craftspeople of those countries with the ideals of Ruskin, William Morris and the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Ms Elaine Hirschl Ellis founded Arts & Crafts Tours in 1992 to examine the roots of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Her own background in the arts and crafts dates back to 1981 when she conceived and produced the exhibition, A Celebration of Quality: Gustav Stickley and The Craftsman Ideal, which contributed significantly to the re-evaluation of the work of America’s foremost Arts and Crafts designer, craftsman and philosopher. In 1987 Ms. Ellis was instrumental in establishing the Craftsman Farms Foundation. As the founding Chair, she organized the successful effort to acquire and preserve Craftsman Farms, the home of the designer Gustav Stickley. The property was officially opened in April 1990 and is now a highly successful house museum. Elaine has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MA in American Studies from Columbia University. She has been and is on the boards of the William Morris Society in the United States, the American Friends of the Arts and Crafts in Chipping Campden, and MOBIA, the Museum of Biblical Art. In 2007 she was elected an Associate Brother of the Art Workers Guild and most recently was elected a Companion of John Ruskin’s Guild of St George. “Arts & Crafts Tours’ clients are generally seasoned travellers who are now looking for a more focused way to understand and appreciate a country and its history,” Elaine explains. “We also have several who are involved in architecture, painting and craftwork either as makers or as collectors.” As the tour groups are small, the scholars, curators, hosts, and others who are especially knowledgeable about the places visited often join the group for luncheon or dinner, which gives guests additional opportunity to ask questions in a more informal setting. “This opportunity is not standard to other tour operators,” Elaine states, speaking of what it is that differentiates the company from competitors. “Over the years we are delighted that so many of the guides who began with us are still on our tours and at the same time, we are always looking at new research and asking new people to work with us.” There is no doubt that 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for the entire tourism industry and Elaine, like many others, has had to cancel and postpone trips. Without tours to operate, the company introduced a series of articles that are available on its website and are primarily related to upcoming tours, such as articles on Women in the Arts and Crafts Movement, articles on marvellous and little known Arts and Crafts churches throughout the country, and introductions to many industrial villages which were established by Britain’s 19th century industrialists for their workers and designed by Arts and Crafts architects. Elaine is, however, both optimistic and delighted that some tours may once again resume in 2021. “As our groups are limited and go to mostly private places and to public ones out of hours, we are in an excellent position to safely welcome visitors back. “We are moving ahead in 2021 with three tours. William Morris and His Influence which was to have been held in 2020 and will now be in the summer. “In addition to this, there will also be two new tours - Women of the Arts and Crafts Movement in September and Art and Soul: The Soul of the Arts and Crafts Movement in October. These tours will take groups to Scotland, the Lake District, the Midlands, the Cotswolds, London and the South West. Our May tour, ‘Patrons, Poets and Dreamers – Utopian Planned Communities’ will now be offered in the spring of 2022. “We will continue to take people to some of the most beautiful places in Britain and to show them exquisite objects and sites. Combined with time spent in stimulating conversation along with good food and drink, we find we are offering a unique and much appreciated experience.” Company: Arts & Crafts Tours Contact: Elaine Hirschl Ellis Website: