Rosy Greenlees, Executive Director, Crafts Council, United Kingdom

The socio-economic impact of pandemic on cultural and creative industries has been catastrophic, its about time international bodies rallied around to save the inheritance as culture plays a vital role in identity building, social cohesion, dialogue and  reconciliation. We managed to engage Ms  Rosy Grrenlees, Executive Director, Crafts Council UK into sharing the best practices and initiatives taken by her organisation to bring resilience in the lives of people associated with the industry.

Kindly share some of the best practices and measures that can be employed in recent times to facilitate artisans and MSMEs when pandemic takes a mighty toll on their livelihoods?
The pandemic has been challenging for many people – especially small business owners. After collating the best advice, resources and funding for small businesses, we regularly updated our website and newsletters, and provided a digital space (via Zoom)  for makers to come together to talk about the challenges, making sure that all the main issues are addressed.  The focus has been to build a sense of community and make them realise they’re not alone.
We quickly turned our fundraising efforts to support makers and distributed one round of hardship funds and then facilitated hardship funds from Creative Scotland to craft makers based there. Teaming up with artist Matthew Burrows on the globally successful #artistsupportpledge we encouraged makers and designers to be part of the initiative in which they could post their work for sale under £200 and once they had made £1,000 sales pledged to buy £200 of other artists work thus stimulating sales.

How are you leveraging technology and digital platforms  in rescuing the societies from what is presumed to be a cultural catastrophe by many experts?
The way online video conferencing, exhibitions and fairs on social platforms have connected the people is unprecendented manner – all is needed is wifi and a smartphone. This actually resulted in many people connecting with us who wouldn’t normally be able to physically get to meetings or events and bring forth meaningful content to give a sense of experience.
Our recent event Touch trialled using new conference platforms (Remo) to enliven seminars, workshops and networking bringing much needed opportunity to network and meet new people in innovative and playful ways.

Define the role of educationists and academicians in mobilising youth to adopt craft skills &  sustainable ways of living?
Educators and makers can share their expertise with young people to rethink the role craft can play in our communities. By imparting the wealth of skill and knowledge,  young people can be empowered to make use of crafts in the pratical world. We should be encouraging, more risk-taking so that mistakes can be made into leaning experience and creative confidence can grow.

India and the UK share a long history of cultural exchange, in India there are still more than 7 million people practicing various traditional crafts for subsistence. How the collaboration between craft councils and other such bodies can materialise crafts into mainstream economic activities ?
The Crafts Council is an active member of the World Crafts Council, a global membership network of craft organisations and India is a member. We have a number of programmes where we collaborate together across countries – the Award of Excellence which supports artisans in developing new products and Craft Cities a network of 50 cities, towns and villages which have clusters of craft activity and have been certified by the WCC.  In addition we have recently run a series of webinairs in collaboration with British Council’s Crafting Futures initiative to discuss how we can address the challenges facing the sector post pandemic.

Cast a light on the importance of regional crafts in promoting domestic tourism, especially in present times when the international tourism and hospitality  sector is blighted by pandemic.
World Crafts Council Europe recently held an event exploring Craft Tourism – the film from the event can be found on their facebook account.
One of the WCC International seminars were on the local ecology of craft and cosmopolitan v localism which explored examples of where people are focussing on a local tourism or using digital technology to sell their work internationally. In the UK we know that craft businesses in some of the country’s coastal towns have done well during the pandemic because of international travel restrictions the numbers of domestic tourists has risen. Recordings of these events will be available shortly.

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