Choiseul Crafters Appeal for Return of Craft Centre

Choiseul crafters display their products at the Business Expo.
Choiseul crafters display their products at the Business Expo.

Amidst the activities held to commemorate the island’s    independence anniversary, a group of crafters from Choiseul are calling on the authorities for the return of a crafts centre in the community to help boost their livelihoods.

As part of the recent Business Expo initiative staged as part of Saint Lucia’s 44th Independence Anniversary celebrations, a group of artisans from the Choiseul community proudly displayed their arts and craft works at Constitution Park, Castries.

The inaugural activity organized by Export Saint Lucia in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce, witnessed several business products on display for public viewing and purchase.

Alysia Prescott, a representative from the Choiseul Crafters Association and Arts and Craft Heritage Tourism group spoke to THE VOICE about their participation in the exhibition and aspirations for greater exposure and economic benefits from their trade.

Clara Edwards is the president of the association, which currently has a membership of about 40 persons.

Prescott explained that the crafters produce a variety of items that include; table mats, straw baskets, bread baskets, fruit baskets, hand bags, purses, crafted bottles, clay pots.

How significant was it for the crafters being able to showcase their local products at the exhibition?

Prescott said the items on show, was but a “small display” of the items that they produce.

Notably, a group of students were busily involved in filling out their work-sheet exercises as they conversed with the vendors to find out about their different products.

Noting the significance of their participation in this inaugural Business Expo, she declared: “It is part of advertising for us and we are hoping for and aiming for bigger markets… and we are here as a means to showcase our products and to be part of the activities.”

However, in the midst of the festivities, Prescott lamented the lack of arts and crafts facilities in the Choiseul community.

“We are now pleading for the return of the Craft Centre to be back in the hands of the crafters …we are begging for it to be returned to us, so we can have more training done in there, we can have activities advertising (publicity), so that when the tourists are travelling about the place they can stop and participate in what’s happening,” she said.

The crafter added, “The youth can also get an opportunity to participate and earn a livelihood from the craft.”

Speaking on the marketing strategies that the crafters employ to conduct sales, she said, “Individually, we do our own marketing and of late Export Saint Lucia has come on board with us …so we are longing for a lot more activities happening with Export Saint Lucia and the Choiseul crafters.”

Prescott admits that the arts and craft sector provides livelihoods for a majority of females in the community, but other persons benefit from the craft trade as well “and it is open to everyone to come and exhibit your products”.

Interestingly, she added, there are several family-run businesses among the crafters and it’s an amazing feat that provides livelihoods for persons in the community.

Prescott says the exhibition helped showcase the “quality products” that is produced in the community, and with prospects for further development of the craft and growth “…we need a market, we need a bigger market.”


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