Tourists take a look at the woodwork of one of the vendors at the Ministry of Tourism’s Bajan Pride Expo, held last October. (FP)

The Barbados Arts and Crafts Experience pilot project has been lauded as a novel and worthwhile initiative by artisans of the Pelican Craft Village, Bridgetown.

The project participants gathered last Thursday evening for a training session in preparation for the pilot’s official start, which will be in the coming weeks. It will offer visitors a hands-on experience in making their own art and craft, ranging from painting and jewellery-making to woodwork and playing the steel pan.

President of the Craft Union of Barbados and one of the 14 artisans participating in the project, Undine Rouse, explained that she saw the pilot as "a positive step from the Ministry of Tourism, [which] took the initiative to do this project to help the artisans of this country…and I know the other members are excited about it…and I say well done to the Ministry and Minister Sealy".

Even though a professional in her field of jewellery-making, Ms. Rouse explained that training was a key element to ensuring the project’s success.?? She noted that "it’s always good to have a refresher course", adding that positive interaction with visitors ensured that they returned to our shores and told others about their experience.

This sentiment was shared by Ireka Jelani of Roots and Grasses, who revealed that she believed "there was always something to learn" and was looking forward to her first session of instructing visitors in basketry.??

"I see this as a project to enhance the craft industry…as a kind of cultural exchange where visitors to our island interact with us as artisans and we try to show them different techniques and methods and systems and how we create our fine craft.?? It’s exciting to know that the knowledge that we pass on to individuals will be worthwhile and help to promote Barbados in terms of art and culture," she commented.

She, too, thanked the project coordinators – which included the Barbados Arts Council, the Barbados Craft Union, the Pelican Tenants Association and the Intimate Hotels of Barbados – for introducing the concept, noting that it would benefit all entities involved.

"I really give thanks to the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation and the Ministry of Tourism, for [creating] something like this and giving us an opportunity to promote and market our products, and let others know what is available in Barbados…" she said.


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