Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Fantastic work on traditional crafts in Michigan

 I just came across a fantastic report on traditional crafts in Michigan USA. It is a tremendously positive look at how traditional crafts can be recognised and promoted as part of the heritage and tourism industry. Here are a few excerpts and the link to download the pdf report is at the bottom.

Many state arts programs offer some form of traditional arts apprenticeship program in which an apprentice (the learner), during a designated period, learns a tradition through practical, hands- on experience under the guidance and instruction of a respected, accomplished traditional artist (the master)...Michigan...since 1988, has awarded grants totaling $320,000 to 160 master/apprenticeship teams of which approximately 50 percent have been to support craft—jewelers, lacemakers, rug weavers and braiders, boat builders, instrument makers, quilt- makers, decoy carvers, and more.

Today, the Michigan Traditional Arts Program, endeavors to “advance cross-cultural understanding in a diverse society through the identification, documentation, preservation, and presentation of the traditional arts and cultural heritage of the state of Michigan.”

In large and small ways, crafts are an important element of Michigan’s economy. The sector includes gatherers and producers of craft supplies, home-based cottage industries, craft tool production businesses, large-scale craft supply and craft retail operations, craft galleries, craft schools and institutes, on-line craft businesses, craft fairs and festivals, county fair exhibitions, craft-based tours and events, and craft exhibitions.

Craft fairs, festivals, and exhibitions in museums and galleries provide not only sales opportunities for crafts but also they serve as a cultural destination for tourists and often a nucleus for a variety of craft-based educational activities.

traditional crafts are already a strong factor in local and state economies . . . these activities can and should be strengthened . . . they hold the potential to build tourism and jobs for Michigan.

A Nation of Quilters
Conducted every three years since 1994, this survey discovered that there are 21.3 million active quilters who spend a total of $2.27 billion each year on their passion.

Across America, heritage tourism is expanding and is recognized as a driving force in economic development and increasing attention is being given to the connections of craft and tourism.

 In 1983 a National Crafts Planning Project... a study that was probably the first and perhaps only nationwide assessment focused solely on the traditional craft sector in the United States... highlighted the importance of honoring master practitioners, promulgating endangered craft skills, and providing governmental support to activities that expanded economic development opportunities for craft artists.

The goals of Craftworks! Michigan are to:
1.    support the growth of creative enterprises and sustainable cultural economic development by assisting, coordinating, and promoting the state’s craft industry and outstanding craft artisans;
2. stimulate collaborations with existing and new heritage and cultural tourism initiatives; and 3. identify and stimulate new opportunities for
private investment, job creation, and apprenticeship training.”

craft activity.. represents an enormous and essentially untapped resource to strengthen tourism which would, reciprocally, build the economic viability of the craft sector. Craft-based tourism is being used around the world to effectively build the individual artist’s ability to earn income and to simultaneously grow communities economically.

Download the pdf report here

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