India Craft Week sets future direction for the Craft Sector during Pandemic

The recently concluded India Craft Week-Digital Preview, achieved a global benchmark by using technology, and touched more than 1.04 Million People world-wide and build a connect with Authentic Craftsperson & Artisans, perhaps the largest initiative using ‘Digital Media’ in Craft Sector so far done by any organization!

The Industry Impact

“With cancellation of world events and no movement through physical channels, the artisanal reach was a huge worry, so over three days we used ‘Digital & Social Media’ to for mass reach out, and I am very glad that it was not just the industry or the consumers, but thousands of Craftsperson from across the India joined various forums to seek trade direction, and solutions post CoVid” says Iti Tyagi, Founder and brain behind Digital India Craft Week. The Craft Sector employs 50-million people directly and 250-million people indirectly, and is the second largest employment sector after agriculture. “We can’t keep on looking at them as a marginalized society and focus our efforts in that manner, rather we have to designate them as ‘Creative Industry” of India”, echoes Tyagi, who feels that lack of attention to the sector by various stakeholders has resulted in net loss of 40% of skilled manpower by becoming daily wage labour in absence of Money and Recognition both.

“When the craft sector has been going through one of the toughest time in history, to see participation over a million, and 74,339 people attending various Craft Symposium, Craft Workshops, Craft Films, Craft Rhythm, Craft Rare and other activities planned during the three days, and as many as 64,107 people interacted with various speakers, craftsperson & artisans shows the mettle to revive the sector, hence the three days ‘think-Tank’ added major thrust to ‘Hand-Made’ and ‘Hand-Crafted’ in India campaign”, adds Tyagi

Organized by Craft Village in collaboration with world organizations like World Craft Council-Asia Pacific Region (WCC-APR) and British Council, India and Garland Magazine, Australia the ICW Digital Preview brought most innovative solutions through ‘Crafting Futures’ to overcome the current crisis. The 3-days ICW Digital Preview was inaugurated by Shri Dinesh Patnaik, DG, ICCR, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Govt. of India. Speaking on the occasion Shri Patnaik says “Craft supports the nation in its cultural diplomacy with the rest of the world, and India Craft Week sets that tone, also in order to do a cumulative & meaningful efforts, times like this should help establish a Craft Census, so that maximum artisans can be linked to benefit schemes both by Govt. and Others”.

Participated by more than 70- Brands, Artisans, Experts & others, the 3-Days ICW-Digital Preview was inaugurated by Shri Dinesh Patnaik, Director General, ICCR, Govt. of India and the thoughts Leaders in Craft & Culture from across the world would share their insights and experiences including Dr. Ghada Hijjawi-Qaddumi, President, World Craft Council-Asia Pacific Region, (Kuwait), Barbara Wickham OBE, Director, British Council, INDIA, Rajeev Sethi, Founder of Asian Heritage Foundation, Deepikka Jindal, MD, Arttdinox, Jaya Jaitley, Craft Revivalist & Founder, Dastkari Haat Samiti, Manish Saksena, Lead Advisor, Aadyam Handwoven, Sundeep Kumar, CEO, Craft Beton, Dr. Kevin Murrey, Editor, Garland Magazine, Australia, Lisa Cahill, CEO & Director, Sydney Craft Week & Australia Design Center, Dr. Fatina Saiklay, Director, Co-Creando, Italy, Rahul Mishra, Fashion Designer, Anju Modi, Fashion Designer, Gaurav Jai Gupta, Fashion Designer, Jonathan Kennedy, Director Arts, British Council, INDIA, Ashok Chatterjee, Former Director, NID and Past President, Craft Council of India AND Manjari Nirula, Sr. Vice President, World Craft Council-Asia Pacific Region amongst many others.

Artisanal Gain

Designer Rahul Mishra feels The craftsmen/weavers need to find these opportunities in times of crisis, and indeed they have one, as most of the Crafts cater to Wedding market, and during the lock-down weavers can prepare themselves as post July there would be beginning of wedding season, and they can fetch better values. Celebrations and festivities are core of human emotions/spirit and they are bound to come back when things settle”.

As per Manisha Jha, the artisans in Madhubani have been focusing on developing quality work, since there is no sale during the period; they are focusing on doing limited work that can fetch better value and returns. Also, interestingly the Mithila painting is what they do post harvesting, therefore, they had always a double advantage to use both farm seasons for farming and non-farming season in working on “Traditional Mithila” paintings, and therefore, she is optimistic that it may not take more time in reviving these craft clusters, that are not solely dependent on Crafts for their livelihood.

Whereas many artisans feel that post demonetization and GST, craft sector was already struggling and the pandemic has come as a huge set back, therefore they feel that like farmers there should be interest waivers even on the loans of Craftsperson so that it can help them sustain this period. “It could be of a great help, if Govt. can consider this, as it would help us to reduce burden and can help retain craftsman that works with us, there were so many people from policy at ICW Digital Preview, we hope our voices were heard directly by them” feels Inder Singh Kudrat, Shilpguru and Craftsperson of Meenakari from Jaipur.

“India Craft Week-Digital Preview has helped us show our work to the people directly through LIVE Craft Workshop, and a lot of people have been asking about the price of all our products which they saw at our homes, building a direct connect between us and the potential buyers, we are confident that post lock-down most of them would even come back asking for these products and end up buying them. Through our LIVE demonstration workshop, we not only showcased our skills but also promoted a great deal of our products with hundreds of global and urban community” says Kamaljeet Matharu, a wood inlay artisan and national award winner from Hoshiarpur, Punjab.

The Crafting Future post Pandemic

Over three days, renowned world expert discussed the possible solution for future under theme “A (UN) CERTAIN FUTURE; Strategy for Re-Building Craft Sector. The Seven Sessions from May 1-3, 2020 discussed VISION I POLICY I DESIGN I INNOVATION I SKILLS I INCLUSIVENESS and the future SOLUTIONS for the revival of the Craft Sector post Pandemic.

“Few of the solutions that are discussed among the World Craft Council-Asia Pacific Region are creating more digital platforms like ICW for the craft sector, for helping Artisans and Craftsperson for promotion and purchase of raw material and sale of products and enabling Artisans to be more proactive with Social Media Platforms and Online training/coaching sessions for the Artisans’ says Dr Ghada Hijjawi-Qaddumi in her keynote address.

Dr. Barbara Wickhem, Director of British Council adds “ICW digital preview is a great example of positive resilience. At such uncertain times, the sector has to look at a more sustainable and self-reliant future. A future that is focussed on skills rooted in the land and natural resources, like craft and design. It is a 400 billion dollar industry globally and India receives only 2% distributed among 40 million people practicing and working in the sector.

Also most importantly, the women artisan ratio is 56% who also need access to various factors like better education, coaching and training for financial independence and skill development”.

Innovation and Sustainability can unlock the potential of the Craft sector. Craft associations, Councils and organisations should take measures to teach innovation principles and strategic fundamentals to the second generation of artisans. These associations should promote collaborations of innovative start-ups and traditional artisans in strategic areas like Eco innovation, digital fabrication, information technology, communication technology and more that attract investments, globally.

“Cluster mapping and coaching should be next big thing in the sector to encourage industry collaborations like Information Technology, Communication technology, Start-up, Data management, institutes to bring economic opportunities and new business ventures” adds Dr Fatima Saiklay, Director, Co-Creando (Italy) Expert and evaluator at European commission – The European Innovation Council Accelerator

“Craft can bring connection among people, as it has the ability to trigger emotions in a form of memories. Travel and tourism industry can benefit from it by co-creating experience to make a new world citing the example of AirBNB, how they have engaged the world community using online experience concept’ presented Dr. Kevin Murray. Craft Revivalist and Editor, Garland Magazine, Australia. The Garland Magazine’s latest issues has very innovative stories captured from across the world of Craftsperson & Artisan titled Uphaar; objects of love, that coincides with a historical lock-down across the world due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This issue offers golden opportunity to consider what really matters, including the precious tokens that house our feelings for the object of our love! “Uphaar” is a Hindi word for offering or gift or any service done by heart for someone. How can objects bring us closer together? Indian culture is replete with rituals for binding beings, including the extravagant wedding celebrations and the ties made to connect brother and sister. We will explore the increasing diversity of this love, including feelings for nature. Read tales of wedding games, sari memories, jewels of vengeance and the love of making. Along the way, we will visit Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bangalore, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Australia.

Especially post CoVid, we have to find totally new mantra, economic ideology has to be replaced by creative ecology, culture will influence that, making, & doing and being, the village public will rise with technology, and finally Dadi will become the prophet. The future will require smart new subsets in the skill-sets, the hand, body, eye, and spirit would reign supreme, so everything would have to be tested against Soil, Soul and Society. And the Craft Sector instead of calling it an unorganized sector, needs to be termed as self-organized sector, and traditional knowledge will have an edge” says Rajeev Sethi, Founder of Asian Heritage Foundation.

“Technology has helped us a lot, everyday at least I receive 5-6 images of Craft on WhatsApp that I put on various Craft Groups and if you look at my personal Instagram, it is full of all beautiful work sent to me by my Kaarigars. I have also requested Govt, where the Madhubani, Kangari, Gond, Patrachitra and such art forms has shown CoVid themes, and traditional figures wearing masks, and lord jaganath puri carrying sanitizers in his hands, so Craftsperson are the echelon of the society, So I had requested Govt that if the health ministry during the everyday briefing can showcase these artwork done by the artisans, it adds so much life and looks like that the whole India is participating in this fight against CoVid” adds Jaya Jaitley, Founder of Dastkari Haat Samiti and Craft Activist.

India Craft Week Digital Preview has brought back the renewed focus to upgrade Craft Sector in terms of technology, and create an ecosystem that balances tradition and modernity, and build global connect of remotest of Indian Crafts to the swankiest cities and consumers on the world for economic and sustainable development.



2 thoughts on “India Craft Week sets future direction for the Craft Sector during Pandemic

  1. Congratulations for a successful Crafts week. I appreciate your efforts on bringing such eminent people on the forefront. It a wonderful start to influence Industry and i am so glad Craftsmen who make the crafts, are addressed & participated.
    One section, i wish was included is Consumers. I belive they are the main stakeholders. Its their voice that matters the most. How do we get them involved? I suggest, we have a campaign that involves their opinions, their participation. I suggest a movement for them to use Handloom Handcrafted & Khadi. They need to post that on their social media platforms. They discuss or showcase, how they are using the products addressed to them created for them. Ask for thier suggestions. The objective being them getting heard, their appreciation & learning about their usage & responding to their issues with little tweaking of the product. I started this campaign, where i am urging them to post their photos with Hashtags #Handloom #Handcrafted #Khadi #India #Handmadeindia. This may help us to track.

    2nd, where is Government here? Why did they not participate? As Voters, don’t we think, they need to participate & are accountable to us? Just by criticism of Government we are not inspiring them to participate. Not a word from the Ministry of Textiles? So many of their voters are suffering & they don’t feel uncomfortable? This point needs to be highlighted & the Government needs to be aware that this vote base is looking for answers. This opportunity was great. I am sure not in front of World people. A separate session would have helped.

    3rdly Why is everyone talking about removing middlemen? Even today in the digital world, they have a role to play. If we need to create an Industry & want to be treated as an industry, we need to act like an Industry.
    Common example that i alway give, is, if i want to buy a lock, i don’t go to Mr. Adi Godrej’s house, ring the bell, have a cup of tea & then but a lock. Or ask him to come to Delhi, showcase his sets of locks & choose one. I will go to the local distributor, and i will buy. There is a whole chain involved who ensure that the lock is available near me in a local shop. With internet explosion, ita easier to do that. Even with internet, one is playing the role of a middleman. He is one of the stake holders. When all of us would recognize that. He has a vital role to play. They help Karigars in so many different ways. You may want to term the intermediaries. But that the role that they play. Lets treat #Handloom #Handcrafted &#Khadi as an industry. I belive thats what Ashoke Chatterjee meant when he is talking about differently organised. These are challenges if all Industries.
    4. How to increase sales is the major focus. I appreciate many panelist spoke about it. But not enough. Whether ee like it or not its the sales which will change the game.
    5. I loved the concept of coming together to work togwther for these disturbing the industry. But your organisation can play a wonderful role in doing so. As the platform is ready.

    Once again Congratulations on discussing many vital micro issues, now please address Macro issues, like what policies are needed for increasing production with whoever is ready. In the 11th 5 year plan i had given many suggestions. They are still as valid if implemented. Actually observeing China and what worked for them, some of the good practices need to be imported to our industry. Observe and talk about what worked for Nilam Chibbers action, that helped her to grow further with her Crafts people.
    These actions needs to be replicated for many crafts where its valid.
    I belive together we can inspire not only the people, but also the Government if we create a strong voice and a lobby who speaks in their language.
    Amazing initiative. I would love to support and grow with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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