Regional Centres for Craftsmanship: a strategy for safeguarding the cultural heritage of traditional handicraft
Selected in 2016 on the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices
The Werkraum Bregenzerwald, Hand.Werk.Haus Salzkammergut, and Textiles Zentrum Haslach are three centres in Austria run by local, traditional craftspeople who, for the past 15 years, have been collaborating with international artists, educational institutions, craft businesses and other entities to help safeguard their practices for future generations. The centres have been providing a range of public activities to help maintain the crafts that include woodwork, painting and textile practices, which provide communities with a sense of identity and continuity. Governed by associations in cooperation with craft businesses, as well as educational and scientific institutions, they offer training on traditional techniques, such as introductory courses for primary school students, weekend and summer schools, apprenticeship programmes, and postgraduate courses. Local and international experts help to run the classes, transmitting specialist knowledge and skills associated with the various practices. The centres on craftsmanship also host exhibitions and competitions to enhance visibility of the traditional crafts, attracting local and international designers and artists. Furthermore, they act as bridges between art and industry, providing platforms for the sharing of ideas and experiences on traditional craft practice and the development of cooperative networks. Partnerships between cultural, educational and economic fields are also created, further strengthening safeguarding efforts.