In 2003, UNESCO adopted a Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, including ‘traditional craftsmanship’. It stated:
“Any efforts to safeguard traditional craftsmanship must focus not on preserving craft objects – no matter how beautiful, precious, rare or important they might be – but on creating conditions that will encourage artisans to continue to produce crafts of all kinds, and to transmit their skills and knowledge to others.”
178 countries from Albania and Algeria to Zambia and Zimbabwe have signed up to the convention, effectively making Intangible Cultural Heritage part of their cultural policy. Unfortunately, the UK is not one of them. There is a petitition here to get the Goverment to ratify the convention.
The Heritage Crafts Association supports the 2003 UNESCO Convention and its goal of safeguarding traditional craftsmanship by supporting the continuing transmission of knowledge and skills associated with traditional artisanry – to help ensure that crafts continue to be practiced within their communities, providing livelihoods to their makers and reflecting creativity and adaptation.
Whilst the HCA believes that the UNESCO convention is a good model for supporting heritage crafts, it would be just as happy to see Government take a different route such as the Newfoundland model.
UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. It exists to provide a forum for international debate on issues relating to education, science and culture, and to promote cooperation amongst the 193 member states of the United Nations.