Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.C.1

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Argentina has proposed the Randas of time, a safeguarding model of textile art at El Cercado (No. 01212) for selection and promotion by the Committee as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention:

The randa is a type of intricate, decorative craftwork mainly found in El Cercado, Argentina. Seen in churches, homes, and on garments, it involves using a needle and guiding stitch to create a fine mesh base, which is then placed on a frame and embroidered. Transmitted from women to girls in families, considered part of their cultural identity, less than 50 randeras (randa weavers) exist nowadays due to: their work not being as recognized as it used to; difficult access to supplies as most live in low-urbanized areas; and buyers reselling pieces for substantially more than what they paid for, forcing many to discontinue the craft. Since 2012, randeras communities have been working with Argentina’s Ministry of Culture through the Argentine Traditional Crafts Market, as well as the Tucumán Cultural Office, municipalities, universities and other bodies to address these issues. Safeguarding measures include: research and documentation on the practice; community workshops; a Randa Festival; and Crafts Market. Initiatives for the future are: a Protocol of Best Practices for Design and Crafts Collaborative Work with fair price mechanisms; a bank of supplies; catalogue of techniques and designs; directory of practitioners; and incorporation of the practice in school curricula.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the programme responds as follows to the criteria for selection as a best safeguarding practice in paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:

P.1:   The safeguarding initiative that is presented includes dimensions of research, documentation, inclusion in school curricula, creation of a quality seal, creating a bank of supplies, the identification and analysis of the value chain associated with production, and the promotion of tourist activities. It seems to have stemmed partly from limited availability of raw materials and a lack of recognition of the importance of the element and appears designed in cooperation with bearers of the element. However, more information would have been welcome to justify all the measures (and their apparent emphasis on commercial ventures) and precisely how their need was identified. In addition, the majority of these measures are presented as future activities and, therefore, cannot describe a best practice.

P.2:   The programme has currently only been initiated at the national level, although it may in future become relevant to communities in other countries of the region and beyond. Bilateral or multilateral actions may be promoted following the model proposed by this programme, with its gathering of information and exchanges between communities and groups of craftspeople who are bearers of textile cultural heritage. These are part of a number of suggestions for the future, but these cannot satisfy this criterion, which requires a description of activities already implemented.

P.3:   The programme (so far as its initial and future activities are concerned) reflects some of the principles and objectives of the Convention, such as promotion of human creativity and cultural diversity; dissemination and raising awareness; the contribution of intangible cultural heritage to sustainable development and social cohesion; and a focus on women as important bearers and actors of this intangible cultural heritage element. There is a lack of clarity as to aspects of the programme and the element itself and whether they fully reflect the principles and objectives of the Convention.

P.4:   The proposal lists a number of interesting activities aimed at ensuring the viability of the element, for instance by safeguarding knowledge and skills and finding an equitable and profitable market for randa craft and its practitioners, eventually leading to the sustainable development of community-based local industry. If the file indicates that some initial activities have been successful, it however appears to be premature to highlight that they demonstrated effectiveness, for instance concerning the avoidance of any negative consequences of the commercial strategy, such as risks of decontextualization and homogenization of consumption.

P.5:   The file demonstrates that the randeras communities have been involved in the design of the programme from the beginning, and the Tucuman National University, as well as government authorities at local, regional and national levels (Ministry of Culture), assisted them in their effort. The community concerned ultimately decided what measures will be implemented. Documents attached provide evidence to this effect.

P.6:   The file points out two aspects of this programme that could be replicated in other contexts: identifying safeguarding measures adopted by the community itself; and the encouragement of innovative actions for a possible transformation of intangible cultural heritage into a sustainable development opportunity. However, due to the recent nature of the activities described in the file, it is difficult to evaluate their impact and to ascertain whether they could constitute a model at this point in time. The file also stops short of demonstrating efficacy in raising the awareness of the communities concerned and in strengthening the viability of the element beyond commercial-oriented production. The programme, therefore, cannot at this point serve as a regional or international model of safeguarding.

P.7:   The file lists dissemination measures already being implemented so far as the element is concerned (such as a register of specialist randa craftspeople; transmission of techniques and knowledge through formal and informal education; and crafts fairs and festivals). The file, however, does not sufficiently demonstrate willingness on the part of the communities concerned and the submitting State to promote dissemination of the potential best practices arising from the programme as a whole.

P.8:   The file indicates that no assessment has yet taken place since the programme is currently ongoing. It does, however, offer possible future indicators (number of randeras at fairs and festivals, numbers of trainer randeras, number of randa workshops, result of production activities, and payment of a fair price to the producers).

P.9:   The file shows that the programme can apply to the needs of developing countries as its primary contribution is to convert threats (mostly caused by the operation of global markets) into the possibility of sustainable development (by enriching bearers and practitioners with craft knowledge and techniques, and with economic returns as a result of fair trade). This would provide the craftspeople with self-esteem and foster the continuation of heritage by keeping it alive.

  1. Decides not to select the Randas of time, a safeguarding model of textile art at El Cercado as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention.