Traditional Crafts and Artisans

About This Group

This interest group is focused on the creation of networks across the region to support the work of artisans who are engaged in the practice of rare or lost crafts and other traditional cultural expressions. Through this interest group they may more easily be able to ‘find’ one another and forge strategies to safeguard their imperilled disciplines. Those working with specific materials may find it worthwhile to join others doing the same across the region to share common issues. This interest group can also serve as an advocacy body in regional and international fora on behalf of traditional cultural practitioners. And, where networks that treat some aspect or aspects of the sector do already exist, this interest group can potentially strengthen and facilitate their work. For those charged with the development of the sector in individual territories, this interest group, together with the CHN's Traditional Crafts & Artisans Directory, will make the onerous task of keeping track of a growing cultural heritage practitioner community easier. It will also facilitate planning of regional workshops and training sessions and the development of a shared marketing effort. 

Goals and Activities

This interest group will focus on the following activities:

  • Continuing expansion of CHN Practitioner Directory;
  • Meetings and workshops to promote artisan groups and networks organised in collaboration with existing cultural agencies and institutions;
  • Best practices discussion groups and resources
  • Announcements on partner websites/national directories, regional agencies’ directories;
  • Email newsletters and promotions;
  • Encouragement of establishment of extension officers in ministries/agencies to assist in marketing of traditional crafts and business mentoring of practitioners.
  • Social media pages to raise the visibility of individual practitioners and the sector as a whole.

The Challenge

All aspects of a people’s existence, lived experiences as well as inherited legacies, combine to produce their cultural heritage. Many of the most distinctive aspects of that heritage are the visible in the work of cultural practitioners who provide us with cultural goods and traditions, both tangible and intangible. The sharing and overt displays of these cultural manifestations contribute to their recognition and their association with a particular community. Yet the aspects of a culture that are suppressed, not practiced, not promoted, or not actively passed on to successive generations soon become extinct. Such is the danger facing many of the traditional practices and cultural expressions of the peoples of the Caribbean; in an age of globalization, mass-marketed consumer goods, and generic tourist souvenirs, the distinctive crafts of the region need protection and promotion through the sharing of experiences, resources, and regional and international visibility.