Consultant to make business case for craft school
Zyacom consultants have been hired to devise a plan that makes a business case for the Jamaican craft sector, including an institute to refine the artistic talent of craft makers.The business case will assess the skills training gap, as well as the necessary financing and structure of a Craft Development Institute, CDI, to be operated by the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.
Zyacom is headed by Wesley Vanriel as team leader and includes a financial analyst, a training specialist, and visual arts, sculptor and wood products and ceramics specialists. The company has been contracted by the Ministry of Tourism and its agency Tourism Product Development Company to develop the craft plan.
The craft school to be based in Ocho Rios will train practising artisans as well as students entering a degree programme, and facilitate the assessment and certification of artisans in collaboration with Bureau of Standards Jamaica.
Craft sector development
The aim is to develop a craft sector capable of taking market share away from imports. Jamaican around US$1 million of craft annually from foreign sources, according to TPDCo's craft unit.
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said at the contract signing with Zyacom that craft sold locally was mainly imported from China.
"The modern tourist does not want assembly line mass produced souvenir items from a foreign land," he said.
"Our artisans are skillful and creative and Jamaica has an abundance of raw material with which to work. Unfortunately, we are not using our cultural capital to full economic advantage."
Bartlett said the 'business case' for the CDI is to be delivered by Zyacom in three months, after which it will be submitted to the Cabinet for review. The ministry wants to launch the institute in the first half of 2018.
As noted on the TPDCo website, the local craft sector is largely informal, comprised mainly of small and micro-enterprises and informal operators.
TPDCo estimates that there are possibly around 8,000 artisans producing craft and around 2,000 craft vendors, some of whom are artisans, operating in 14 designated craft markets nationwide. There are five craft markets in Montego Bay, five in Ocho Rios, two in Negril and two in Port Antonio, plus other sites from which informal vendors operate.
Craft is also sold in attraction sites, souvenir shops, hotels and ports of entry, said TPDCo.
In Jamaica, the craft sector is traditionally oriented towards trading.
"Local vendors prefer to buy and sell," head of TPDCo craft unit, Violet Crutchley told Gleaner Business. The agency aims to reorient the market to development of craft though training of artisans and the creation of artisan villages, Crutchley said.