New Sandton centre caters for crafters
Thousands of people eke out a living through making and selling crafts, but they frequently lack access to markets, so limiting their opportunities.
This prompted the Johannesburg metropolitan municipality, the Gauteng provincial government and the Department of Trade and Industry to set up the Craft and Design Centre, which will provide a platform for creative workers to showcase and promote their products to local and international shoppers.
Opened last week, the Craft and Design Centre will focus on improving the supply and demand of handmade products within Gauteng. It is on the busy corner of Rivonia Road and West Street - just off Nelson Mandela Square - in Sandton, a tourist, shopping, business and financial hub.
Speaking at the launch, the Gauteng provincial minister for sports, arts, culture and recreation, Barbara Creecy, said the centre would support craft entrepreneurs and mentor the growth of small and micro enterprises.
"The centre opens up vast opportunities for black economic empowerment, job creation and poverty alleviation. Through this initiative and other regional hubs, the Gauteng provincial government aims to improve the crafters' access to markets."
Crafts were an important part of the huge growth of the global creative economy. Creecy said her department, in partnership with local governments, would launch satellite centres to service crafters and designers.
"To this end, agreements have been signed with the City of Johannesburg, Mogale City and Sedibeng to roll out the regional centres."
The centre has a retail outlet where a diverse range of handmade products are on sale, a coffee shop and a space where crafters, designers and others can exchange ideas and showcase their skills.
According to research done by the Gauteng department of sports, arts, culture and recreation in 2008, the creative industries contribute over R33-billion to the province's economy every year and create direct employment for more than 60 000 people.
The design and craft sectors make up a significant proportion of these numbers. About 53% of the province's creative workers are women, 47% are young people and 15% of companies employ people with disabilities.
Despite this, many creative workers in Gauteng still lack access to capital and need help with marketing their products and with expansion.
"Through interventions which support individuals in the second economy, we can ensure real opportunities for financial participation in the national economy - making it possible for people to feed and house their families and offering the prospect of improved living conditions," said Creecy.
Johannesburg municipality's Nandi Mayathula-Khosa said the council would develop a city-wide strategy for the craft and design sectors. "It is a fact that we have to work together to realise our objectives of creating more jobs and improving the quality of lives."
At the core of the centre are five programmes that support creativity - design and innovation; enterprise development and training; market access; communication; and ongoing research and development.
It also has a corporate gift warehouse that will negotiate and facilitate orders on behalf of producers and provide gifting and promotional solutions to corporate buyers.
The Gauteng Craft and Design Centre is on the corner of Rivonia Road and West Street, just off Nelson Mandela Square, in Sandton. It is open from 9am until 5pm from Monday to Friday.
Source: City of Johannesburg