- Takes note that Czechia has proposed Strategy for safeguarding traditional crafts: The Bearers of Folk Craft Tradition programme (No. 01468) for selection and promotion by the Committee as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention:
In 1997, the National Institute of Folk Culture (NIFC) began to implement the project ‘Folk Trades and Handicrafts in the Czech Republic’. The project focused on the film documentation of traditional crafts. The fieldwork to identify producers revealed that most workshops were struggling financially and had difficulty selling and creating their products. The situation called for immediate action; the renewal of contacts between producers and customers and awareness-raising on traditional crafts and their technologies. In response to this situation, the Ministry of Culture and the NIFC set up the Bearers of Folk Craft Tradition programme in 2000, which aims to support, protect and safeguard traditional crafts. In addition to accessing public awards, grants and donations, artisans and their products are protected by an exclusive trademark. Further to documenting and researching traditional crafts, the NIFC collects and assesses the collections of products by award-winning producers. Traditional crafts are assessed by artists and designers, and award-winning producers receive a set of printed promotional materials, including leaflets, business cards, tags and a ‘Bearers of Tradition’ brochure. The public is kept informed through dedicated websites, publications, a DVD and a permanent exhibition in Chanovice.
- Considers that, from the information included in the file, the programme responds as follows to the criteria for selection as a good safeguarding practice in paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:
P.1: The proposed programme aims to support, protect and safeguard traditional crafts. It addresses various challenges faced by traditional crafts, including the decline of such crafts, the poor financial situation of craft workshops and the abandonment of traditional models. The programme helps to raise awareness of traditional crafts and their technologies, boost their prestige and encourage society-wide recognition of craft producers and artisans. It includes a comprehensive set of safeguarding measures, such as the identification of bearers, documentation and research, protection through the ‘Bearers of Tradition’ trademark, promotional efforts, public shows and exhibitions, and scholarships.
P.2: The file explains how the proposed programme promotes the coordination of efforts for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage at the regional and international levels. The technologies and craft processes in Czechia have significant regional overlap and can be found in other countries of Central Europe, and the programme can be an inspiration and an opportunity for cooperation with workshops abroad that may need advice or support. The file provides examples of traditional crafts that overlap with other forms of intangible cultural heritage in the region, such as the production of blueprint fabrics and the making and playing of the traditional musical instruments such as bagpipes in collaboration with other countries in the region.
P.3: The programme reflects the various principles and objectives of the Convention, including the efforts of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, ensuring respect for the intangible cultural heritage of the communities, groups and individuals concerned, and raising awareness at the local, national and international levels about the importance of intangible cultural heritage. The programme also demonstrates international cooperation and assistance and supports professional scientific studies and the methodological research of traditional crafts, particularly those at risk of disappearing.
P.4: The programme does not only focus on public awards for producers. It also offers practical benefits such as financial support, the promotion and presentation of products, an annual exhibition and methodical assistance, among others. The programme is also effective in facilitating the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next. The file provides specific case studies of the individual practitioners that were featured under the programme, and demonstrates the programme's effectiveness in encouraging the continual transmission and viability of their crafts.
P.5: Various communities, groups and individuals were involved in the planning and implementation of the programme's safeguarding measures. These include individual producers, clubs and associations, professional institutions, government authorities and local governments. Artisan clubs and associations also organized activities with professional craft groups and professional institutions cooperated with artisans, resulting in nominations for the title of ‘Bearer of Tradition’. The file describes the involvement of the bearers and practitioners in the preparation of the file, including the number of people and the process by which they participated in the preparations. In the letters of consent, the bearers indicated that they were consulted in the development of the file and stated their commitment to continue to work with the programme.
P.6: The programme may serve as a sub-regional, regional or international model, as its structure is flexible and its objectives can be adapted to suit the needs of diverse communities. The programme helps to strengthen and reinforce the social status of traditional crafts, which have been pushed to the margins of economic interest by modern industrial production. It can also be applied to traditional production processes, where knowledge and skills are at risk of disappearing. In addition, the programme can be easily transferred to other areas of intangible cultural heritage, such as elements that feature traditional songs, dances or musical instruments, which can be found in numerous countries and communities around the world.
P.7: The file explains that thirty-eight producers gave their consent to cooperate, share knowledge and participate in the continued development of the programme, as well as to disseminate the good practices, if the programme is selected. Award-winning producers are also willing to present this programme at specialized and professional events such as trade fairs and workshops in Czechia and abroad, and to share their experience with others. The Czechia Ministry of Culture and the National Institute for Folk Culture expressed their readiness to cooperate with UNESCO to disseminate the programme as an example of good safeguarding practices for intangible cultural heritage.
P.8: The implementation of the programme between 2000 and 2021 provided important experiences for its development. The file provides information about the results achieved in the areas of identification and nomination of producers and documentation and research. In addition, detailed photographic and film documentation was made for all the award-winning producers, resulting in about 5,400 records. In terms of measuring the results of promotional efforts between 2009 and 2020, twelve ‘Bearers of Tradition’ brochures were published, and twenty-two exhibitions have been held in the Czech Republic and five abroad. The programme has also measured the results of transmission, and approximately thirty new successors are working with award-winning producers in their workshops. In addition, the programme is regularly evaluated on several levels, including a comprehensive evaluation every five years.
P.9: The ‘Bearers of Folk Craft Tradition’ programme can be applied in other countries. This relatively inexpensive system can be a source of inspiration and guidance, especially for developing countries. It is simple and easy to comprehend, and the file describes how each of its aspects – such as the processes for the identification of artisans, the documentation of work processes and products, the awards for selected artisans, and the allocation of a trademark – can be adopted by other countries.
- Decides to select Strategy for safeguarding traditional crafts: The Bearers of Folk Craft Tradition programme as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention;
- Commends the State Party for a well-prepared file and a safeguarding model that can be adapted to other settings of traditional craftsmanship facing similar challenges.