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Guildhall celebration marks Craft Programme finale

02 July 2015

A celebration event held in the Guildhall to mark the finale of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s dedicated Craft Development Programme, has heard that the local craft sector is now at its “most active, vibrant and confident”.

Craft Programme finale

The celebration was an opportunity to thank all the craft businesses who have taken part, as well as organisations that have supported the delivery of the very successful programme which was part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, together with Council.

Speaking about the event, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion, paid tribute to the Council’s ‘Craft team’ and all involved in the success of the year-long programme, saying: “We now have a sector that is at its most active, vibrant and confident, equipped with new or energised skills, inspiration and passion to keep the sector growing.”

Explaining that the programme had built on earlier work by the Inner City Trust and its Craft Matters research, and on the legacy and momentum of City of Culture 2013, the Mayor said: “It has been a platform to raise the profile and visibility of our craft sector as well as showcase local talent, for example, through craft events, exhibitions and marketing campaigns.  The Programme has also provided practical support to both established and new businesses to grow the sector and sales.”

Praising all the crafters and makers for embracing the Programme and working in partnership with Council’s ‘Craft team’ – Deirdre Harte and Hazel Best - Cllr. McCallion said she was delighted the Programme had either met or exceeded all the targets set by Invest NI.

Deirdre Harte, Council’s Craft Development Officer, also expressed her thanks to the craft businesses, the funders, Enterprise NW and Craft NI for their support over the past year during which 2,500 people attended more than 100 events ranging from small craft workshops to the gala Craft Awards ceremony/fashion show, and national touring design exhibition which is currently running at The Playhouse until July 16th.

“Over 70 crafters/craft businesses have benefitted from one-to-one business support through the Enterprise and Export programmes, creating firm foundations for the continued growth and development of our highly focused and energised local craft sector,” she said.

The work of local crafters and makers had also helped put Derry City and Strabane District on the map nationally and internationally as a craft tourism destination, the Craft Development Officer added.

Alan Kane, Chief Executive of Craft NI, who was among guests at the celebration, said:

 “The programme has raised the awareness of craft in the North West and has contributed significantly to the growth and development of the craft sector in the local area. A superb foundation has been created and we believe that the legacy of the programme will be felt for many years to come.

“Craft NI will continue to advise and support local craft makers through their general programmes and activities as part of our remit.”

Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North West Regional Manager, added: “Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Craft Development Programme has been a valuable resource for new and established craft businesses in the region. The advice available, along with the opportunities to showcase their work, are important contributions to help these entrepreneurs achieve their full potential.”

The celebration event concluded with the screening of a ‘highlights’ film from the Craft Development Programme.

Crafter’s view – a touch of glass!

 

Natasha Duddy, one of the local crafters who participated widely in the Craft Development Programme, praised the support provided for the growth and development of her contemporary glass design business over the past year.

The Eglinton-based fused glass designer and jewellery maker said: “I was lucky enough to be included in Trade Show visits to both London and Dublin. The research trips gave me an opportunity to see changes in visual merchandising as well as speaking to exhibitors.

“Three of my pieces were shortlisted in the ‘Best Mixed Media’ category at the Craft Awards and the design entry I submitted for the award trophies was subsequently selected for the Derry~Londonderry Business Awards 2015. This opportunity would not have been possible without the Craft Development Programme.”

Natasha, a busy mum of two young girls, also welcomed the decision to host the first Summer Craft Fair in the Guildhall on June 20 & 21.

She explained: “This was an excellent opportunity to develop ranges specific for this season and engage with local customers who normally don't attend until the annual well established Christmas fair in November. It also attracted a lot of tourists who were visiting the city and wanted to experience not only the beautiful Guildhall building, but also the fantastic selection of crafts on display inside.”

Natasha continued: “We have also been able to attend several workshops run through the Craft Development Programme this year. I have participated on the visual merchandising, branding and use of online media and the importance of e-commerce. These have all given me excellent advice and information to help expand and develop my business.

“The programme has helped the entire craft sector in Derry, promoting a local, hand-made, high quality industry within our city. All of the crafters are a close family unit and it has encouraged us to participate in events together during the year, sharing skills and experiences.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Deirdre and Hazel for all their hard work and commitment throughout the programme and the fact I got so much from it.”

[Ends]

Further information is available from the Marketing and Communications section, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Tel. 02871 376504.