Basket trade dialogue on cards

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STEP Zimbabwe Trust in conjunction with the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) will hold a basket trade policy dialogue conference at the Harare Rainbow Towers Hotel on May 21 to explore ways for sustainable development of the creative industry in Zimbabwe.

BY KUNDAYI MARUNYA

Funded by the European Union (EU), the basket trade policy conference will be held under the theme Contemporary Art and Traditional Crafts Contributing to Social and Economic Development with EUNIC’s cluster members, the British Council, Alliance Francaise and the Zimbabwe-German Society.

The conference will be officially opened by the permanent secretary of Sport, Arts and Culture, Thokozile Chitepo.

Its aim is to contribute towards sustainable development of the creative industry in Zimbabwe by establishing links to European and regional markets.

It is designed to build further the capacity of weaving communities to interact independently with market players.

The conference will also seek to increase awareness among basket craft traders on the policy and institutional frameworks that govern basket trade, to increase understanding on other relevant provisions that enhance market competitiveness related to socio-economic gains and to contribute a voice towards a broader Arts and Culture Policy Dialogue that is currently being crafted by the government.

Topics to be discussed include the economic value of crafts, craft-based cultural tourism, impacts of art and crafts development on the environment, sustainable utilisation of the natural resources in Zimbabwe, defining intellectual property and patent, access to genetic resources, and the benefits sharing of genetic resources, among others.

It is estimated that over 800 000 rural households around Zimbabwe were involved in basket weaving for livelihoods.

Localised basket trade has been very common over years in Zimbabwe but recent trends are showing that regional export particularly through the Beitbridge border post is also increasing.

The EUNIC cluster has been implementing the Creative Zimbabwe Programme since July 2013.

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, five prominent African and European artists, Ifeoma Anyaeji (Nigeria), Alexandra Bircken (Germany), Tapfuma Gutsa (Zimbabwe), Delaine Lebas (United Kingdom) and Michel Paysant (France) were commissioned to create new pieces in collaboration with the country’s rural basket weavers.

Two acclaimed European designers, Natali Crasset (France) and Sebastian Herkner (Germany) have also run creative workshops with two weaving communities, drawing from their own expertise and the rich weaving traditions to develop innovative designs that will enhance the technical mastery of basket weaving craft.

Since the exhibition opening, there has been increased exposure to local, regional and international markets, and ultimately the participating rural community weavers are expected to realise improved household income.