An Indo-Australian dialogue on Craft & Culture 7th & 8th December, 2013

December 22, 2013 Uncategorized 0 Comments

Introduction – Sangam Project and Collaborative Community join hands to bring the third and final year of an exciting journey of craft and cultural design to a resounding end in Bangalore, in the form of Samaanata. Samaanata translates to mean ‘equal respect’ in Sanskrit, which is the essence of the project, where the focus extends beyond the craftsperson and designer to include the user to explore equitable market linkages.  The previous two editions of Sangam Project have been held in Ahmedabad and New Delhi. This year the destination is an important choice for building dialogue in Bangalore, the unofficial “entrepreneurial capital” of India where we engage credible stakeholders in the creative industry and markets not just in Karnataka but also across India.

Samaanata is a two day conference that will open up new avenues and create a platform for fair partnerships between designers, artisans and consumers. Talks, round table meetings and panel discussions aim at creating a scenario where the DESIGNER = ARTISAN = USER. The events will focus on looking at existing and emerging trends in market linkages and new business models like e-commerce. There are new organizations and facilitators bridging the gap between market and craft ecosystem by streamlining supply chain, building resources for artisans, training, product development and marketing intervention. This forum will bring diverse stakeholders in Bangalore and parts of India to participate in this event. The aim is to perpetuate tangible ideas and outcomes of possible partnerships between India and Australia from Samaanata.

The profile of organizations and individuals at the event reflect the diversity of stakeholders in the craft sector from artisan communities, craft clusters, craft organizations, retailers, facilitators, craft councils to designers, anthropologists, social entrepreneurs, women entrepreneur, impact investors, researchers and educationists. The attempt is to look at possible partnerships, collaborations and exchange of knowledge/ ideas to facilitate a better ecosystem for the craft sector. The discussions will also revolve around the role and relevance of craft in the modernization process, role of artisan beyond the skills, new opportunities for market linkages, new design interventions, new emerging business platforms for craft and the future of craft in a more equitable scenario.

The knowledge exchange and collaboration opportunities will be shared as outcomes of the Samaanata event on 8th December. Sangam project will then move on with its mission to bring more countries around the world to a common platform of craft and culture. Collaborative Community will continue to engage the stakeholders in the Indian craft sector to solve some of the challenges and build opportunities to facilitate more equitable scenario for artisans, facilitators and craft organizations.

Sangam – Australia India Design Platform is a three year program of forums and workshops in Australia and India that aims to develop fair standards in product development which can add value to craft practice in partnership with art and design.

The UNESCO Code of Practice for Craft Design Collaborations seeks to provide protocols for partnerships in product development that ensure fairness and sustainability for the craft sector. The first stage in the development of these protocols involves a dialogue between Australia and India which draws on the extensive research and thinking from both countries. From this will emerge a draft set of protocols that can be tested in the field.

Sangam, the Australia India Design Platform, is curated by Mr. Kevin Murray and managed by the Ethical Design Laboratory, a research area of RMIT Centre for Design, including researchers from Australian Catholic University and University of Melbourne. It is supported by the Australia Council as a strategic initiative of the Visual Arts Board and the Australia India Institute.

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“We have some very interesting projects coming to Samaanata. We’ll near about new approaches to craft sustainability, particularly ways of connecting producers and users through the emerging e-commerce platforms. It’s a great opportunity to exchange information and forge future partnerships within India, between India and Australia. Hopefully it will show the fruit that grows from the ongoing dialogue across the Indian Ocean. I’m personally excited to bring talented and credible people from Australia to Bangalore to share our side of the work in craft sector.”

Kevin Murray, Curator, Sangam Project 

We are happy to get support from credible partners for this year’s event, Victorian Government Business Office, Swiss Arts Council and British Council and that takes this dialogue beyond the two countries.

“Samaanata has come at a very pertinent time where we are addressing critical questions in the craft sector in India about what is the role of artisan, a creative artist or a skilled labourer? The role of craft in our current market, decoration or functional?  The relevance of craft community and sustainable livelihood opportunities for them are important as more youth are giving up their family artisan skills, moving to urban cities and looking at modern livelihood opportunities. With new platforms and market linkages, does it make sense to make handmade craft into mass production with more demand ? At this event, we also critically assess the role of difference organizations, government bodies and individuals that can work together collaboratively to make a more sustainable impact on craft communities. 

Collaborative Community as a design facilitator is excited to build this community and look at long-term solutions as outcome of Samaanata event.” 

Achyutha Sharma, Founder, Collaborative Community