Kolkata 26th July, 2016. Jonathan Ward, Principal Commercial Officer at US Commercial Service inaugurated Karunama 2016 at the Birla Academy of Art & Culture, Kolkata. He was accompanied by Amitava Bhattacharya, founder and full time director of banglanatak dot com. They were accompanied by the visiting artists – members from the various Rural Craft Hubs who will be showcasing their art and products, holding workshops and share their stories of success. Karunama is open to all and will continue till the 31st of July, 2016.
Bengal’s Craft tradition is as rich as it is varied. Age old traditions, celebrating a unique zest for life and exhibiting the manifestation of creativity in all its hues, that are only now being fitted into the terms that we coin to express our developmental concerns– sustainable, enabling, eco-friendly, green-aggregators, tools of socio-economic uplift.
The number of people sustained directly and indirectly by our Art and Craft traditions is huge. The role these Craft traditions play in sustaining the employable from the socially marginalized, economically vulnerable sections of the society too is virtually unquantifiable. And, the economic impact of the communities that are the real custodians of our creative heritage is literally beyond comprehension.
Buoyed by the possibilities of e-commerce and riding the crest of a demand surge for environment friendly, sustainable products, these traditional art and craft communities are now ready to keep their tryst with economic destiny. A resurgence, that the Government of West Bengal is seeking to expedite through a number of specific initiatives aimed at creating common facilities and providing the right impetus that will lead to employment generation, foster enterprise development, promote exports, create incomes and accelerate grassroots growth.
The Rural Craft Hub project is one such initiative. The Department of MSME & T, Government of West Bengal in collaboration with UNESCO, New Delhi, has developed 10 Rural Craft Hubs in the state with Craft traditions like Sitalpati, Madurkathi, Terracota, Patachitra, Dokra, Wooden and Chau masks, Wooden and Clay Doll making and Kantha.
The West Bengal Khadi & Village Industries Board has supported the hubs with hardware interventions. Resources Centers and Community Museums have been developed by them. The Resource Centers apart from providing common working space to the artists also functions as abodes for appreciative visitors while the community museums act as additional attractions, boosting efforts to develop these hubs as cultural and tourism destinations run and managed by the communities themselves.
“Karunama is an effort by the craftsmen from these 10 hubs to share and showcase their traditional arts with the people of the state, especially the young” said Amitava Bhattacharya, the soul behind banglanatak dot com. “The idea is to narrate the unique stories of the evolution of their respective art forms through workshops, apart from exploring business opportunities and establishing the last mile connectivity with the market”.
banglanatak dot com
banglanatak dot com is a 16 years old social enterprise headquartered at Kolkata and working across India for fostering pro poor growth, peace and harmony using culture based approach. The organization works with marginalized communities to revive and revitalize their intangible cultural heritage (ICH) as a strategy for their socio economic empowerment. Music, art and modern creative tools like photography, video and social media are used for fostering dialogue and exchange among youth from different geographies across the globe. banglanatak dot com is accredited with UNESCO and United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) and also has national partnership with UNESCO, New Delhi and international partnership with UNWTO.
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