Man's hands working in wood with metal pliers
©

KraftMade/Magdalena Menzinger

#craftivism #craftsarecool
Open call for UK craft practitioners

UK craft mediators, designers, gallerists, curators or other craft practitioners have the opportuntiy to participate in the international partnership project Crafting Futures Romania, a British Council programme designed to support the future of craft around the globe through research and education, which will be launched for the first time in Europe in Romania this year.

BACKGROUND

The selected participants will visit Romania in May 2020 (coinciding with Romanian Design Week) to connect with local craft and sustainable design practitioners in Bucharest and Transylvania, with the aim of developing joint UK-Romania projects.

The focus will be on collaborative learning experiences which will take place in Romania and explore the use of traditional wisdom to innovate for a sustainable future. The programme aims to change perspectives and the perceived value of crafts by fostering UK-RO collaboration to find common solutions and tell stories of craft and the wisdom that comes from it.

This is an opportunity for British craft practitioners to expand their work internationally and innovate in collaboration for a sustainable future of craft with the support of British Council’s global network and expertise. The Romanian cultural landscape is rich in craft heritage and tradition, with a new local wave of artisans showing great development potential for the integration of craft and intangible heritage in contemporary and sustainable design. 

OPPORTUNITY

The Crafting Futures Romania programme is split into several stages:

Stage 1

Six participants from the UK will visit Romania for a Crafting Futures Field Trip, starting in Bucharest during Romanian Design Week, the largest national design festival. The Crafting Futures Field Trip will take place between 23-27 May 2020.

Participants will have the chance to discover the local context and challenges related to craft and to connect with craftivists and sustainable design practitioners from Bucharest, rural Transylvania and Cluj.

The programme will be carefully curated over 5 days to offer a comprehensive picture of the local context, with both its richness and its flaws including visits to local production facilities and workshops, meaningful networking opportunities and professional roundtables. The programme will be curated and organized in partnership with The Institute and Cluj Cultural Centre and a detailed itinerary will be provided to the selected participants. 

The selected UK participants for the Field Trip will be granted 1.000 GBP to cover air travel and most meals costs for the entire duration of the trip. British Council will book accommodation, facilitate grant payments, organize local transport, facilitate working relationships with Romanian organizations, manage and resolve any issues that may arise.

Stage 2

Following the Field Trip, participants will have approximately three months to draft a project proposal together with a local Romanian partner (which will be established during or following the visit to Romania) to be implemented under the Crafting Futures umbrella.

Submission deadline for project proposals: end of August 2020. 

Stage 3

Following the evaluation process, one Crafting Futures project will receive a 10.000 GBP grant (in two instalments) from the British Council and the project will be implemented in Romania between September 2020 – October 2021. The programme may be subject to additional funding that can result in available grants for more than one project; at this stage, however, additional funding remains to be confirmed. 

Please note the timeline above is indicative; the exact dates for stages 2 and 3 will be confirmed by the end of May 2020.

AIMS

  • to help craft professionals in the UK get a better understanding of the Romanian sector and cultural heritage; 
  • to develop rich cross-cultural collaboration, bringing together traditional craft and contemporary design to foster new ideas, innovative designs and creative practices;
  • to provide a space for collaborative thinking and learning;
  • to preserve, share and develop knowledge, practice and traditions in craft; 
  • to strengthen the sector and its networks and participate in the positive change of the perceived value of crafts in both the UK and Romania.

About Crafting Futures Global Programme

Crafting Futures supports the future of craft around the globe. This British Council programme strengthens economic, social and cultural development through learning and access. 

Through international collaboration, Crafting Futures creates new networks and opportunities for shared learning between the UK and other countries around the globe. The programme supports research and education in craft, ensuring our projects are relevant and the quality of creative practice is preserved and continues to develop.

Crafting Futures offers designers and artisans access to knowledge and expertise, new markets and new audiences, ensuring the value of craft is appreciated more broadly and knowledge can continue to be shared within the sector.

Partnership is central to the programme design and outcomes, which aim to build international collaboration to support the future of craft and address shared global challenges in the sector. In the UK we work with a Partner Network and match them with overseas partners to design and deliver projects. 

Find out more about the Crafting Futures programme at design.britishcouncil.org/projects/crafting-futures or in the presentation available below, under the Downloads section. 

Craft and sustainable design in Romania

Globally, the focus on material growth has led to a diminished perceived value of slow processes, natural materials and artisanal production means, with many developed and developing countries struggling to keep their craft culture alive.

However, across Romania, small initiatives and scattered artisans are forming a community of people who are returning to traditional practices to build a sustainable, responsible future. For some, keeping traditions alive and living in harmony with nature is a form of activism for sustainability. 

Craft culture in Romania

Reinvented through the dedication of passionate practitioners, activists and their communities, craft culture in Romania, as in the UK, is slowly finding its place as a key pillar for sustainable design.

One of the distinguishing aspects of Romanian contemporary design is the revival of local intangible cultural heritage through its integration in modern design practices, with several local organisations and initiatives having managed to develop modern craft projects and products with national and international success.

Modern craftivism in Romania is weaving tradition and archaic wisdom with fresh concepts and approaches, bringing together functionality and the stories and personality of rural communities where craft has been preserved, sometimes out of necessity. It also serves a social function, as craft innovation is a means of generating income and improving quality of life in poor rural Romanian communities.

The main theme of the 2020 edition of the Romanian Design Week will be CHANGE and SUSTAINABILITY and will showcase the best of contemporary design, including some of the new crafting local projects.

Romania-UK craft and heritage connections

The Romanian diaspora in the UK is one of the largest expat communities, with over 400,000 Romanians currently living in the United Kingdom.

Romania has also had traditional positive influence from the UK in connection to rural tourism and heritage protection, as Pro Patrimonio Foundation – a leading heritage preservation institution – was founded by Romanian aristocracy exiled in the UK during communist times, while The Prince of Wales's Foundation Romania has helped bring the rural heritage of Transylvania into the spotlight, galvanizing the preservation of tangible and intangible heritage across the region. 

In this context, through collaborative learning experiences, Crafting Futures aims to change perspectives and support the rebirth of craft by fostering further UK – Romanian collaborations in the field of craft and sustainable design.

Within the programme, Romanian and UK practitioners will work together to innovate for a sustainable future of crafts by looking at local resources in the multi-cultural rural Romania. 

Changing perceptions over the value of crafts, but also of what rural and Romania mean for the UK, and working with communities to raise their sense of shared identity, regardless of nationality, the Crafting Futures programme and its projects aim to respond to shared global issues. 

Learn more

Find out more about the context of craft culture in Romania by exploring additional resources available below, under the External links section.

 

How to apply

Selection Criteria

We are looking for applications from UK craft mediators, designers, gallerists, curators or other craft practitioners with:

  • a minimum 3 years of professional experience in the field of craft practice or research;
  • demonstrable interest in craft and heritage preservation, craftivism, local culture;
  • availability to travel on the proposed dates for the Crafting Futures Field Trip to Romania and to develop subsequent projects in partnership with local organisations until 2021 (participants must be available on 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 May for the full days, which means most will travel on 22 and 28 May)

Additionally, successful candidates will be expected to:

  • work collaboratively, be open in their approach, generous in exchanging information with peers and the project partners;
  • present their work clearly and support the partners to communicate the project activities beyond specialist sectors, online and on social media;
  • act as advocates for the project, the partner organisations and the role of craft.

Commitments

Selected participants will be expected to:

  • attend and participate in all activities related to the Crafting Futures Field Trip;
  • further collaborate with Romanian partners to prepare a project proposal under the Crafting Futures umbrella;
  • if selected, implement the proposed project according to the programme timeline. 

Eligibility

Applicants must be based in the United Kingdom and legally entitled to travel within the United Kingdom and to Romania for the full period of the programme (May 2020 to October 2020).

Application Process

Please read all the supporting information and send the following to arts@britishcouncil.ro with ‘Crafting Futures Romania application’ in the subject line by 8 March 2020, 23:59 UK time. Selected participants will be announced by 17 March 2020

  • CV in PDF format
  • Cover Letter describing relevant experience, training, education and your interest and ambitions in the project (500 words)
  • Portfolio - PDF with up to 4 examples of recent projects with relevant images, links and/or descriptions

In case you have any questions, you can write to us at arts@britishcouncil.ro or join the Q&A online session on the Friday, 21 February 2020, 11.00 UK time - send us an e-mail at arts@britishcouncil.ro to pre-register for the Q&A. All questions and answers will be published on the open call’s website on 25 February.

External links