About the Project
The overarching territorial challenge is simply distance from market. There is a demand for high quality craft products, but the demand is located in the populated areas of Europe, in many cases outside the NPA area. Artisans recruited to participate in the Craft Reach project can supply the demand, but cannot alone reach the market. This project will develop services that can help bridge the gap between supply and demand and at the same time widen the product range available from these partner areas. At the same time, the project will help arrest the level of outmigration of the young and resourceful who seek better jobs outside the peripheral regions participating in this project. This peripherality hampers growth, economic activity and social propinquity.
If it is possible to provide high-quality jobs for young people in NPA regions, it will help retain the most productive part of the population, and contribute significantly to the survival and growth of these remote communities. We have seen similar growth elsewhere, along the pilgrim route Santiago de Campostela or in Kinlochleven in Scotland where a single-theme development helped regeneration. This is why we want to provide services that will help regenerate the local society through the artisans. If we can both expand the local economy and use the artisans to inspire young people to come forward for placements and training, draw locals in to use the artisan premises as arts and crafts venues, and mobilise older people part with their expertise and become active in these artisan businesses, the society is well on its way to a better life. To utilise as many aspects of the interaction with artisans or other crafts businesses and senior citizens as possible, the project has secured expertise in social enterprise development to advise on how local community groups may deploy the lateral benefits from Craft Reach. The new Lead Partner brings additional experience that we can now deploy to the project and the selection of new artisans. They have been involved in both green economy projects like arctic agriculture and with blue economy projects like seweed harvest. We aim to run a specific intiative for these themes. With two partners’ food expertise (Teagasc and Matis), we see a project with a lot of strength and credibility in the business development service.
Clearly we cannot stop there, we need to overcome the physical remoteness by boosting virtual linkages and on-line sales, creating artisan synergies, sending the young people out on placements and provide advice on funding for the artisans. There is a synergy in these services which has a great chance of contributing to lifting local communities. The strength of Craft Reach is that it is a regional bottom-up driven projects where we know that the local communities are mature enough to tackle the interventions; they are part of it. We will, as in the previous projects tailor our interventions to local capacity and expertise, which we have done very carefully, particularly in Greenland. We aim to offer administrative appropriate support to the weaker project partners. Our member businesses are local artisans, based in these communities. Their support organisations will be part of our stakeholder groups, which will meet regularly during the project, some of them will be associate members of the project.
As the services provided by the Craft Reach project will be aimed directly at the artisans recruited to the Économusée network; working with stakeholders, we will know at any one time exactly what their needs are. Furthermore, this project draws on the results of two previous very successful craft business development projects which took the number of artisan businesses in the network to 38, creating nearly new 70 jobs in the process across all of the project partners. We have worked with many of the stakeholder organisations in the past; they trust the work we do and they know how we work with artisans. This project will strengthen their furture due to the robust exit strategy the project will put in place and the focus on small family-based SMEs.
One objective is to help artisan businesses prosper. Small artisan businesses in remote and peripheral regions suffer large disadvantages as a result of their locations. Craft Reach will develop services to help counter this. The Canadian Économusée concept per se is a great business model, which we will introduce to the artisans as a support service. We will continue to strengthen the trading model by offering services for product development, business planning and funding advice.
Another objective is to lodge artisans firmly in their local communities and to deepen their embeddedness. This Objective will focus on three aspects of the local community; its young, its creative potential and it’s elderly. The Économusée artisans are able to contribute to each of these. We will work to inspire young people, to show them that in a proper context it really is possible to make a good living based on traditional heritage skills. Our work aims to develop services for both placements and apprenticeship-style engagements for them. Local artists help to breathe life into a local society. We plan to provide a service for them to use our artisans’ premises to display their art. A synergy between the two will benefit both. Finally, the elderly as a resource deserves to be engaged and vitalised, we will explore how best this can be done, for example as advisors for the artisans or as guides for visitors etc. As longevity increases, communities need explore how best to use this resource.
The last objective is to internationalise the artisans. Artisans in the previous Craft project stated clearly that the main advantage of the Économusée network was to them, that they were all part a larger, international group. Within this group they can share work practices, product development and knowledge. This Objective looks to draw on these sentiments to develop services to promote the artisans; the project will look to create specific linkages between artisans in different partner regions. One aspect will be to develop and to expand the websales platform as a service, but in tandem with this service the Économusée brand itself needs to be developed, including ensuring that UNESCO is familiar with our concept as immaterial cultural heritage, hence having the UNESCO Professor at the University of Bergen as an associate. In addition, by embedding the network and brand with tourism strategy organisations we will work to ensure that they include our artisans in their intineraries.