Dasra, India’s leading strategic philanthropy foundation, has released a report to help revive India’s Art and Craft sector. The report titled “Crafting a Livelihood”, sponsored by The Rothschild Foundation,outlines the current craft landscape in India, challenges and opportunities for rural artisans, roles of various stakeholders – government, corporates, social businesses, non-profits - and best practices currently implemented within this space.
Propelled by loss of markets, declining skills and difficulty catering to new markets, rural artisans have been increasingly moving to urban centres in search of a low, unskilled unemployment in the industry.According to the report, over the past 30 years, the number of Indian artisans has decreased by 30%, indicating the need to re-invest in artisans to safeguard history, culture and an important source of livelihood. Over six months, Dasra’s team mapped the crafts sector, reviewed over 250 non-profits and interviewed key sector experts to outline the cornerstones for building the crafts ecosystem in India.
According to the report investment in the sector should focus on building artisans’ sustainability through four key approaches including: Handholding the Artisan through the Value Chain; Increasing Demand for Crafts and Strengthening Market Linkages; Strengthening the Decentralized Production Model and Building a Multi-Stakeholder Approach. The report also highlights the top eleven Indian non-profits that are working to promote these best practices and have the most innovative and scalable models to create large scale change in this sector.
In a special message in the report, William Bissell, Managing Director, Fab India, India’s leading Craft enterprise, says, “I operate a business, which is one of the most profitable businesses in the retail space in India. Yet, it is also one in which the central theme is to enable all our producers to become stakeholders and beneficiaries of the larger wealth creation process.” Speaking about the non profit craft organizations highlighted in Dasra’s report, he further adds, “There are several very successful small scale stories in the crafts space. Taking these to the next level necessitates investment and resources which recognize the value of craft and the socio- economic returns it generates for craftspeople.”
Gayatri Divecha, Manager, Dasra, who led this report,says “An estimated 71% of artisans work as family units so in addition to preserving our heritage, crafts is a powerful tool to create catalytic impact on the lives of women, marginalized communities and social outcomes of entire families engaged in the sector. She further added, “To realize the full potential of the crafts sector, the gaps, overlaps and challenges in the value chain must be overcome to create an ecosystem that enables crafts to thrive. Philanthropy has a key role to play in supporting the creation of such an ecosystem.”
Dasra is currently organizing a series of events in India and abroad to educate and bring together multiple stakeholders including philanthropists and policy makers to bring awareness, funding, networks and resources to non profits in the arts and crafts sector to positively impact millions of lives. Three organizations, AIACA ( All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association), Khamirand Gramshree, highlighted in the report, have been presenting their plans to funders to be chosen for funding by the Dasra Giving circle, a collaborative philanthropic initiative that brings together strategic givers to help scale an organization with INR 3 crores of funding and 300 days of management support for three years. Till date, Dasra has closed five Giving Circles directing over INR 15 crore to organization’s operating in the education, health, sanitation and girl empowerment sectors in India.