World Crafts Council Europe

Report from General Assembly in Florence 8-9 June, 2017

Norwegian Crafts nurture and secure a worldwide network in the crafts field through conferences, seminars, residencies, visitor programmes as well as through our membership in various crafts and art networks, such as the World Crafts Council (WCC). Norwegian Crafts’ director Hege Henriksen is a board member in one of the network’s regional branches - WCC Europe

The European branch of the World Crafts Council held their annual General Assembly in Florence on 8-9 June. The host, Artex - Centre for Artistic & Traditional Handicrafts in Tuscany, had invited regional politicians to officially open the assembly. M. Stefano Ciuoffo, Councilor for Economic Development, Commerce and Tourism for the Regional Government of Tuscany and Mrs. Cecilia Del Re, Councilor for Economic Development and Tourism for the City of Florence, spoke warmly about the important role the craft sector plays in the Tuscan region and the city of Florence. 

17 member organisations from 14 countries participated, representing crafts in a broad perspective – from traditional handicraft to contemporary crafts. The member organisations use their extensive expertise on the craft field when working towards a strengthened status for the craft sector and for an increase in opportunities for craft artists across Europe.

The current president of WCC Europe, Louise Allen from the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland(DCCoI), had asked the member organisations to present a selection of projects focusing on the commercial and promotional opportunities for craft artists and makers in their respective regions. The presentations gave insight into the astonishingly wide range of craft being made across Europe, and clearly showed the potential craft has in Europe today.

Allen also presented the results from a member survey conducted in May 2017. The findings indicate that although the craft sector employs a great number of people across Europe it is clearly underfunded. In the future, WCC Europe will initiate more surveys that make clear the craft sector’s impact on European economy.

While in Florence, WWC Europe invited a local foundation wanting to give back to the craft sector to give a presentation for the member organisations present. The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship is an international non-profit that celebrates and preserves master craftsmanship. It was founded by Johann Rupert, a business luminary from South-Africa and Franco Cologni, an entrepreneur, author and cultural authority from Italy. Both are connected to the Richemont Group, which owns several of the world's leading companies in the luxury goods segment. The idea behind the Michelangelo Foundation is to give back to the craft sector, as it was in this sector the making of luxury goods has its origin (the founders Thierry Hermès and Louis-François Cartier were craft artists working with handmade leather and jewellery). WCC Europe will look into the possibility of working with the foundation in the near future.

Studio visit to the Conventino at Artex
Studio visit to the Conventino at Artex

Craft Cities of Europe
WCC International is divided in five regional branches, of which WCC Europe is one. Rosy Greenlees, from Crafts Council UK, is the president of WCC International. During the meeting, Greenlees gave an update to the European member organisations on the activities taking place in the four other branches of the network, including informing the member organisations about the potential that lies in becoming a “Craft City”.

The status of Craft City is granted an applying city or region by WCC International through an independent jury. Craft City status has not been granted to a European city thus far, but WCC Europe intends to promote the Craft City programme as an opportunity for cities to strengthen local potential for innovation, as well as to create opportunities for cooperation and partnership between the craft cities of the world.

Officina Creativa, Conventina, Firenze
The current board: Aude Tahon, Laura Miguel Bauman, Elisa Guidi, Louise Allen, Hege Henriksen, Illaria Patara

New board member from France
Norwegian Crafts congratulates Aude Tahon from Atelier d’Art de France on being elected as a new board member during the GA. Tahon is a textile artists that took over the presidency of Atelier d’Art de France after Serge Nicole in 2016. The organisation is the initiator of several important projects for contemporary crafts – Revelations Fine Craft and Creation Fair in Grand Palais, Paris, and Maison&Objet to mention a few. Norwegian Crafts has a long and close collaboration with the French organisation and our director is looking forward to work with Tahon in the board.

Tahon will join the other board members in WCC Europe - Elisa Guidi, Artex - Centre for Artistic & Traditional Handicrafts in Tuscany, Italy; Laura Miguel Baumann, Fundesarte, Spain and Hege Henriksen, Norwegian Crafts, Norway.

About World Crafts Council
The World Crafts Council (WCC) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation. Its purpose is to strengthen the status of crafts as a vital part of cultural and economic life, to promote fellowship among the craftspersons of the world, to offer them encouragement, help, advice and foster economic development through income generating activities. WCC was founded in 1964, and is recognised by UNESCO. WCC has five regional branches, one for each of the continents: Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, North America and Europe. The director of Norwegian Crafts, Hege Henriksen is a board member of the WCC Europe together with colleagues from Ireland, France, Italy and Spain.