23 October 2018

The British Council hosted the Crafting Futures Southeast Asia Craft Forum today at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. This was the first time such a forum was held in Malaysia, where key stakeholders from Southeast Asia were gathered to discuss the future of the craft industry.

The Crafting Futures Forum provided a regional platform to gather artisans, designers, craft organisations, design schools, and policymakers to share and exchange learnings, ideas, and to create new networks and advocate for crafts in Malaysia and in Southeast Asia. 

“Held in conjunction with the British Council’s 70th Anniversary in Malaysia, this forum with world experts in the field is a first for the craft sector here, which is in many respects at a pivotal point. With increased support, involvement, and interest from all stakeholders in the sector, we can start to re-imagine and work towards shaping a sustainable and innovative future for crafts in Southeast Asia,” said Sarah Deverall, Director Malaysia.

The forum, themed ‘Youth Engagement and the Future of Craft’, aimed to raise the profile of craft artisans, vocational students, and trainers in Malaysia, and provide concrete solutions to real problems. The forum allowed craft sector specialists from the region and the United Kingdom to share their experience with the Malaysian craft sector.

Florence Lambert, Head of Arts and Creative Industries said: “Across ASEAN countries, youth engagement is a key challenge to overcome in order to revitalise the sector. It is essential that both the youth who are interested in the sector and the current sector players see the role each of them play in the future of Malaysian craft.”

The forum, which was solution and action driven, was attended by Dr Lynn-Sayers McHattie from The Glasgow School of Art, Nicola Dewar from Crafts Council UK, Dr Joseph Lo from Smithsonian Centre for Folklife and Culture Heritage, Yusak Haji Mahamud from Kraftangan Malaysia, Zainal Abidin Che Pa’ from Institut Kraft Negara (IKN), Fern Chua from Fern, Sasibai Kimis from Earth Heir, and Inthaphan Buakeow from Thailand Creative & Design Center, among others. 

The British Council in Malaysia is currently looking at long-term collaborations with IKN and with social enterprises in crafts, and aims to form an advisory board for the Crafting Futures programme in Malaysia.

As a major focus in the British Council’s arts programme this year, the Crafting Futures programme shares the best of UK design and innovation with women and girls to help preserve cultural heritage and introduce skills to enable an improved quality of life. We are also working to develop the creative economy by introducing the first programme in Malaysia focusing on capacity building for creative hub managers and leaders.

The British Council has been working with Malaysia since 1948. In 2018 we are marking this 70th anniversary with a series of events celebrating cultural relations and exchange between the UK and Malaysia.

About Crafting Futures

Crafting Futures supports the future of craft around the globe. This British Council programme strengthens economic, social and cultural development through learning and access. Crafting Futures’ projects support practices and people, through research, collaboration and education. 

Through international collaboration, Crafting Futures creates new networks and opportunities for shared learning between the UK and other countries around the globe. The programme supports research and education in craft, ensuring our projects are relevant and the quality of creative practice is preserved and continues to develop. Crafting Futures offers designers and artisans access to knowledge and expertise, new markets and new audiences, ensuring the value of craft is appreciated more broadly and knowledge can continue to be shared within the sector.

We work with a consortium of partners in the UK and match them with overseas partners. We are supported by Regional Advisory Groups of local craft, design, technology and social enterprise experts. 

The programme is currently active in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Latin America.

In Malaysia, Crafting Futures aims to improve the overall quality of life of indigenous artisans, particularly female weavers, at the same time attracting the younger generation to learn these skills and see craft making as a viable income, bringing the ancestral tradition into contemporary relevance.

Working with the Institute of Design Innovation at Glasgow School of Art, the programme will include developing creative toolkits for both artisans and designers drawing on the wisdom of rural and island communities to generate new processes, knowledge exchange around materials, design process and eco-friendly production, and creating channels of access to the textiles to the wider public.