Artisans prepare for Caribbean Craft Show

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Abaco dolls were on parade at the Abaco artisans product development workshop ongoing in Marsh Harbour.

Marsh Harbour, Abaco – Bahamian artisans have won the praise of Caribbean Export Development Agency’s research and communications officer, Cora Lowe.

Ms Lowe and Caribbean Export consultant Tamila Cross are part of an export marketing seminar and product development workshop underway in Marsh Harbour, Abaco for the northern Bahamas this week.

It is hosted by the All Abaco Handy Craft Association. Representatives came from Grand Bahama, Bimini, the Berry Islands, New Providence and the cays comprising the Abacos.

A similar session was held in New Providence last week for the central and southern Bahamas.

“The craft products that I have seen here in Abaco and in Nassau are of a very high quality,” said Ms Lowe.

“You can see that the craftsmen are very proud of what they produce in The Bahamas. They can go a far way in export if they are ready.”

In the keynote address, Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation executive chairman Edison M. Key urged artisans to be ready for the Caribbean Gift and Craft Show. The 16th edition will be held in the Dominican Republic in 2011.

For the last 15 years, Caribbean Export has used it as a venue to promote the growth of the region’s craft sector.

Mrs Kattie Key, wife of BAIC executive chairman Edison M. Key, finds a piece she likes at the Abaco artisans product development workshop.

Since 2007, Caribbean Export has sought to strengthen the show and increase the export potential of the craft sector by undertaking initiatives to assist the sector to adopt a design-oriented approach.

With the establishment of the Caribbean Design Network (CDN) the following year, Caribbean Export contracted a regional team of product designers to support craft producers and product development activities in The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago under the Onsite Caribbean Project.

“From what I have seen, The Bahamas is ready for the show,” said Ms Lowe.

Ministry of Tourism’s director of visitor experience department, Geneva Cooper, emphasised the importance of the handicraft industry.

“(We) have become sensitised to the changing role and the economic impact that this vibrant industry plays throughout the islands of The Bahamas,” she said.

She commended the Ministry of Tourism-BAIC partnership “as we seek avenues to make the authentically hand-made-in-The-Bahamas products, more available to our visitors through a variety of activities inclusive of the ongoing training initiatives, product development, and craft shows.

“We are positive that these seminars and the development of an export marketing plan will guarantee Bahamian artisans opportunities towards the enhancement of better Bahamian product development and the internationalization of their authentically hand-made-in-The-Bahamas products enabling them to effectively compete and participate in international trade fairs.”

Executive chairman Mr Key said BAIC was pleased to be a part of the internationalization of authentically Bahamian-made products.
“Our Handicraft Development and Marketing Department,” he said, “has been throughout our islands conducting creative handicraft training courses utilizing ingredients found in the local environment.

“Ours has been a success of no mean order as persons impacted by the global economic downturn take advantage of money-making opportunities created in our growing handicraft industry.

“We are grateful for the assistance of Caribbean Export and look with keen anticipation to the next Caribbean Gift and Craft Show.”