Craft vendors reject Bartlett’s artisan village plan
Craft vendors and traders from Jamaica's main tourism resort areas, Negril, Montego Bay, Falmouth, and Ocho Rios, have flatly rejected Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett's plan to erect artisan villages in resort areas.
At an emergency meeting in Ocho Rios on Monday to discuss major concerns affecting the craft industry, representatives from all the major craft shops said that the idea was not workable, with some accusing the minister of trying to push them out of the industry. They say no proper consultation was done regarding the artisan village plan.
Melody Haughton Adams, president of the Jamaica Craft Traders and Producers Association, told The Gleaner: "The artisan village is a cover-up to deface the standing craft markets. In the craft markets, we have space inside that, if developed properly, can say it all and you don't need an artisan village. These artisans can be housed in the existing craft markets and visitors can come in and view what they are doing.
"Why take billions of the country's dollars that other areas are short of to build these villages when the craft markets can be upgraded into proper craft markets? With excellent management teams, running properly craft markets can deliver 100 per cent more than the artisan village that the minister is talking about."
Other views came from representatives of craft markets from the resort areas.
Gwendolyn Blake of Old Fort and Heritage Park in Montego Bay: "It's a strategy to get rid of some of us in craft trading. I think it is a scam. You know they have scam in many different ways. They will hoist up the rent, so who can't afford it have to leave, so the Indians can take over. That is basically what's happening to the craft sector right now."
Joan Wallace of Negril Local Authentic Craft Association: "We don't want a complex, we want a craft market."
Mildred McCalla of Ocho Rios Craft Market: "It's nonsense! How can you make artisan village when we have been here rotting for 41 years? It cannot work."
Eugenie Linton, Pineapple Craft Market: Why artisan village when you can use the money and fix up the craft markets?"
Devon Mitchell, Dunn's River Craft Market: "Instead of spending billions to build new market, the artisan village, why not use the money to fix existing markets?"
Audrey Purchase, Harbour Street Craft Market, Montego Bay: "I don't agree with the artisan village. All that is needed is to fix the market (Harbour Street)."
Evadney Brown McCalla, Falmouth Art and Craft Association: "I think it's going to hurt the small craft traders in Jamaica. We have skilled craft traders that do beautiful work. I think they should upgrade those persons and upgrade the craft markets before they think about doing the artisan village. I don't see the artisan village benefiting the small people here in the craft sector."
Claire Bruce, secretary, Pineapple Craft Market, Ocho Rios:
"We're not being educated enough about our position in the artisan village. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. I don't know (if it is going to benefit us)."