Photo: Arshiya Lekhi
Arts and crafts, in their many forms, have always been and will continue to be an integral part of our culture and the development of healthy, strong and diverse communities, connecting people and, more importantly, fostering innovation and creativity. India has a vast network of artisans who are well versed in the crafts they have chosen. They offer more to the community than great photographs, so continuing to support them is imperative. Many artists are deeply committed to using their art to make communities a better place to live. One way to give these experts the recognition and encouragement they rightly deserve is to be #VocalForLocal. If you are wondering how to do it on an individual level, here is what you can do …
Kushinagar Fiber Crafts | Photos: Anushree Kumar
Raise awareness on social networks: When used correctly, social media can be extremely powerful, and supporting the community of local artisans is a great way to do it. If you come across something you like in your area, share it online. Tell your followers where they can buy it.
Azamgarh Black Pottery | Photos: Arshiya Lekhi
Attars of Kannauj | Photo: Anushree Kumar
Show up for local events: These events can range from gallery exhibitions to supplier fairs. The point is to make sure that you are present for the events that interest you. Events that are not very busy may never get organized again, so just being there makes all the difference. If you want to buy something that’s great, but just attending the event – and publicizing it – has a bigger impact than you might think.
Leather products from Agra, Kanpur and Unnao | Photos: Arshiya Lekhi
Donate to charities and organizations working with artisans: Funding can be a major issue in the art industry, so if you are able, consider donating. You can make a big difference by donating to a charity or organization that helps artisans in need.
The “One District, One Product” (ODOP) program
This can be done on an individual level, or even in a group. But what can be done on a larger scale to support these artisans? The government must get involved for better reach and better impact. Take the government of Uttar Pradesh, led by CM Yogi Adityanath, for example. They launched the “One District, One Product” (ODOP) program in January 2018 to encourage indigenous and specialized products and crafts by finding new audiences for these products. This has helped dozens of artisans and MSMEs involved in making these products. At the inauguration of the ODOP Virtual Product Fair last year, CM said: “Uttar Pradesh is a land of potential. We will make sure that the products get an easy market globally and that the producers get the right price for it. “
Crafts of the Sant Kabir Nagar brassware | Photo: Arshiya Lekhi
They ensured that the various offerings from every district in the state were honored. From unique offerings like wheat stalk crafts to world famous arts like chikankari and zari-zardozi work, everything is at your disposal! Attars from Kannauj, leather goods from Agra, Kanpur and Unnao, glass from Firozabad, black pottery from Azamgarh … the list is long and full of beautiful products. In fact, you may already own or use a product that originated in Uttar Pradesh and did not know it. Just like the diversity of its people, climates, beliefs and cultures, the diversity of products and crafts in this state is breathtaking. So for your next purchase, especially during this festive period, why not opt for Mart ODOP products? Not only will you be happy with the purchase, it will also help local artisans!