Asiwele - Crossing Over: An innovative ART AID initiative

Constitution Hill:

"ASIWELE” – CROSSING OVER - is a new ART AID initiative strategically designed to support and empower crafters in both rural and urban communities. The project’s objective is to foster creativity, enhance economic opportunities, and create a sustainable ecosystem for the craft industries in the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

This project is strategically designed to develop and foster creative relationships and exchange between urban based designers in Gauteng and rural craft groups in provinces where we have identified significant and notably untapped potential rooted in rich heritage, indigenous knowledge, and skills.

ART AID’s aim is to use our extensive experience, strategic networks and on- the-ground experience- garnered over 2 decades - to facilitate synergistic collaborations between these communities that will result in innovative, sustainable, and marketable products for local, national, and international market. Thus, creating sustainable job opportunities for both rural and urban based creatives.

To achieve this, we have carefully selected 12 Gauteng based creative enterprises that specialise in industrial and interior design to visit and work with 12 skilled craft groups in the rural townships of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. Through ART AID's intervention, together, the selected enterprises will work to develop mutually beneficial creative relationships that will result in new, cutting-edge products that will be launched through an exhibition at the Constitutional Hill Exhibition Centre into the national and international design market.

This model for collaboration will draw on the many examples of similar success stories dating back decades where urban design and marketing savvy connects with rural skills and narratives in a beautiful and successful synergy. The list is endless but a few examples that show proof of concept include Ardmore; Marigold; Rourke’s Drift; Imiso Ceramics; and Tshepo Jeans.

We believe that this collaboration will not only create new and exciting products but also promote cultural exchange and mutual learning between the urban and rural creatives.

The ASIWELE range will be strategically marketed both physically and online to local and international audiences. ART AID will leverage existing strategic relationships that include Tourvest Destination Retail and the new Movement Store at ConHill as well as digital marketing experts to optimise exposure and opportunities. A dedicated platform will be developed in collaboration with an established digital agency that is currently providing strategic advice on how to innovate such a platform successfully. An online catalogue showcasing the creative relationships, the products and linked narratives will also be developed and made available to national and international buyers.

Constitution Hill:

ART AID will act as a facilitating agent, ensuring that intellectual property rights and ownership of the products are fair to both parties involved. We will provide support in logistics, the implementation of the design process, the development, production, and marketing of the product, as well as to find suitable markets.

The collaboration between these 12 Gauteng based designers and the 12 rural based craft groups that ART AID intends to develop has the potential to significantly influence artistic and design merit and innovation in South Africa's creative industries. Bringing together two groups with different skills, perspectives, and experiences will create new and exciting products that are innovative, unique, and culturally rich.

The ASIWELE project is scalable, and the model and learning will provide impetus for future initiatives.

Our main objectives for this programme are to encourage innovation, bridge the gap between rural and urban creative and to assist in providing sustainability and economic empowerment:

Our Implementation Strategies will include:

  • Capacity Building Workshops Collaboration and Networking
  • Mentorship and Business Support
  • Market Access and Promotion
  • Monitoring and Evaluation

Our Expected Outcomes will be aimed at:

  • Increased innovation and creativity among crafters, leading to the development of unique and marketable products.
  • Strengthened collaboration and knowledge sharing between rural and urban crafters.
  • Improved product quality, design, and branding, enhancing market competitiveness.
  • Enhanced market access and visibility for crafters, resulting in increased sales and income.
  • Sustainable and environmentally conscious craft practices, promoting long-term viability of the craft sector.
  • Empowered crafters with the necessary skills, knowledge, and networks to succeed in their businesses.

Project Objectives

a) Empowerment: To empower rural and urban crafters by providing them with innovative design solutions, artistic guidance, and training programs that enhance their skills and capabilities.

b) Collaboration: To foster collaboration between crafters, artisans, and designers through the ART AID platform, enabling the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and expertise.

c) Marketability: To enhance the marketability of crafted products by incorporating modern design aesthetics, trends, and technology, thereby increasing the economic opportunities for crafters.

d) Cultural Preservation: To promote the preservation of traditional crafts and cultural heritage by infusing them with contemporary design elements, ensuring their relevance and sustainability.

e) Education and Awareness: To educate and raise awareness among crafters and consumers about the value of artisanal products, fostering appreciation for craftsmanship and supporting the growth of the craft sector.

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