Heritage Crafts Initiative for Georgia
Tangible Side of Intangible: Heritage Crafts Initiative for Georgia is an ambitious programme run by Georgian Arts and Culture (GACC) which sets out to safeguard Georgia’s unique traditional crafts. The programme’s primary focus is in ensuring the transmission of these artisanal skills to the next generation of craftspeople by creating links between masters of the crafts and young apprentices. Special focus is paid to endangered crafts. In this way, it addresses a problem which is prevalent across Europe and offers insight into how the transmission of crafts can be encouraged in comparable regions of Europe.
The initiative was based on preliminary research studies and so their endeavours were evidence based, efficiently planned and effective. In response to the results of their research, the project coordinated an extraordinary range of activities for those being trained in the production of crafts. In addition, special attention was paid to providing training to the instructors to address areas which were revealed to present a potential challenge. To provide this training, international experts were invited to build the capacity of local instructors in product development, quality standards and marketing. In turn, the instructors could pass this expertise to their students. In aiming to boost the business skills of artisans to support the marketability of their products, the Initiative sought a practical method of ensuring the sustainability of craft production.
The jury noted the resourcefulness of the Heritage Crafts Initiative for Georgia, observing that “this international training programme, supported by EU funds, has unprecedented scope for Georgia. Its wide range of activities is impressive with a focus on the revival of crafts and the establishment of successful business models for the continuation of crafts”.
“With a strong emphasis on the transmission of skills from one generation to another, this project has harnessed Georgia’s traditions to contribute to economic and social development across the country, including in communities of religious and ethnic minorities and in rural mountainous areas. These efforts put culture at the centre of this vital progress and establish its role in creating sustainable economic enterprise”, said the jury.
Tangible Side of Intangible: Heritage Crafts Initiative for Georgia has also worked to draw both public and state attention to the role of craft traditions in achieving these objectives. The programme includes awareness-raising among local government representatives and celebrates excellence in their programme with the ‘Craftsman of the Year’ award which is presented to the best teachers or transmitters of craft skills each year.