“We congratulate your innovative approach and wish you success in our crafts market” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 8th December in Colombo speaking at the launch event of Shilpa Saviya crafts entrepreneur exhibition by the National Crafts Council at Jaguar Land Rover showroom.
The national exhibition, along with traditional crafts, featured emerging urban crafts for the first time. Some of the urban crafts were nurtured by senior Lankan traditional craftsmen who seemed pleased to pass down their intangible knowhow downstream.
“This event is yet another important step by the government to strengthen the capacity of Sri Lanka’s crafts tradition and our craftsmen-it also focuses on developing entrepreneurial skills of our craftsmen and linking them to international buyers. There are 25000 Sri Lankan craftsmen registered with the National Crafts Council. With the support of the Council they are continuously trying to bring out new designs and creations to both local and international Markets. We congratulate your innovative approach and wish you success in our crafts market”, said Minister Bathiudeen and added: “The Craft Council is making many efforts to develop our designs and product quality with training and taking the craftsmen to such important global destinations as Thailand Australia and Malaysia. Also, as per the Good Governance promise we are now ready to establish sub-craft councils. We have finalized all work on the twenty-five new District Craft Councils to be established for the first time in Sri Lanka to help regional craftsmen and provide them a voice that has been not available to them in all these years. It is also important to note that 90 percent of our craftsmen are women. Therefore, any support for this sector is empowering our rural women and supporting them.”
“The Colombo Design Market is an upcoming platform for artisans and designers in Sri Lanka” said Ms Alifiya Mutaher, Founder of Colombo Design Market. “We bring them together in one platform for them to meet each other. We are a connectivity platform and not a material provider. This Shilpa Saviya by NCC is a good opportunity for Lankan urban creatives who are exposed to global trends to connect to our crafts people to learn from them as well as our traditional craftsmen to access the market opportunities. Many city designers, the urban creatives, have their own brands.” Ms Kumari Jayantha of Kumari Batiks an urban creative at the event and whose unusual and inspiring blue hued homeware batik capsules (hand-made with muslin, viscose and Indigo dye) said that her collection is about modern vibes, said. “I drew inspiration from our own craftsmen.”
As of August 2017, the NCC reported 25,877 Lankan craftsmen under it. In October, President Maithripala Sirisena at the National Shilpa Abhimani Handicrafts event by NCC, awarded 737 winning Lankan craftsmen. This event also welcomed an international crafts leader to its Colombo series for the first time- President of World Crafts Council Asia Pacific Region Ms Ghada Hijjawi Qaddumi who announced that she was impressed by Lankan arts and craftsmanship, and invited Sri Lanka to nominate one Sri Lankan city or village specialized in a specific craft for as a World Crafts City and to apply to WCC to that effect.