Since I became aware of the web every few months or so I scan around to see what happens if you look for traditional craft on the web. I have always been hugely impressed and inspired by the things I see going on in other countries and rather saddened by the lack of information on British traditional crafts. The situation is improving slightly though. When I first googled "traditional crafts" most of the sites that came up on the first page were about Japanese crafts, mostly government funded sites written in English, I wonder if one day we will have a traditional craft site funded by our government written in Japanese.
Today we get a number of links to British work on the fist page, four of which are a direct result of the Heritage Craft Association's work.
Taking a look around the world Japan is still the centre for the promotion of traditional craft. Here is a map of some traditional crafts.
And here is a brief section explaining the ethos of government support for traditional crafts in Japan.
"The crafts represented in this site are the 198 craft industries recognized by the The Association for the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries, an organization affiliated with the government Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
METI's efforts to promote traditional Japanese crafts is done in the hope that the Japanese people as well as the people of the world do not forget the quality of handwork and keep a place in their hearts for the unassuming and innocent products of direct human effort as well as the products of contemporary technology. Handmade objects are not a thing of the past, however economic factors may increase their market price, but are our contact with something basic and profoundly precious. In recognition of this, and to help protect the traditions, the nonprofit Association for the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries was established in 1974. The Japanese Cultural Agency also has an independent program of promoting crafts that complements the work of the Association."
Sweden puts a huge amount of effort into preserving and promoting traditional crafts. This is their National folkcraft school, a wonderful inspiring place, I have taught courses there a few times and would highly recommend a visit.
Their links page has links to the Swedish Handcrafts Association and the 50 or more "handcraft consultants" these are located in each region and responsible for promoting handcraft by supporting makers, holding exhibitions and events, encouraging teaching in schools and also helping foreign craftspeople who are interested in Swedish craft.
This is the French organisation for recognising exceptional skill in traditional craft. http://www.en.maitres-art.com/qui-sommes-nous.php
Living National Treasure scheme in Korea http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?cp=KR&topic=lht
Lacemaking in Russia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vag6QeXn9pg
Heritage crafts in Norway http://www.akersmus.no/kulturringen/?mid=436
And North House Folk School an inspiring and quite new initiative in the US. http://www.northhouse.org/
Last 2 links The UNESCO 2003 convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage this page is the section relating to craft. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?pg=57
This ahs been signed up to by 116 countries but not the UK.
And for anyone new to my blog the Heritage Crafts Association, our new organisation promoting traditional crafts in the UK. http://www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/about.html
I am always interested to know of other initiatives that we can learn from so please if you know of others that are not linked to here post a comment with a link.