IPA Cross Border – Albania Greece Program
Traditional arts and crafts, such as ceramics, hagiography, woodworks, stone-works, waxworks, used to be integral cultural parts in the region. Such handicrafts were associated with ancient traditions and formed art masterpieces produced by skilled workers, which are in fact the real cultural capital. Knowledge and skills of craftsmen are forming this special traditional cultural reserve. Howbeit, changes in trends of architecture, living habits, industrialization and globalization, and the rapid drift towards international influences, such handicrafts as well as the skilled workers’ careers have become under threat. However for those skilled craftsmen, still doing business one of the most vital problems faced by the handicraft industry is that of marketing their products. There is no definite organization or co-operative society or body occupied in supporting artisans in promoting their products. They set out their products as domestic consumption or against customary orders or in the local market, losing the large potential of paneuropean or regional markets. For this purpose European Institute for Local Governance (EILG) and AULEDA – Local Economic Development Agency, two no profit organization working in the sector of environment, preservation of natural and cultural heritage, social cohesion and social enterprises, and the Municipality of Pogoni (MoP), Pogon Municipality (PM) and Delvina Municipality (DM) have agreed on this project for developing strategies and enhancing business capacities of craftsmen in the region with the ultimate goal of saving this valuable human cultural capital. All partners have a long and in deep involvement in their field of expertise. All five partners have a long activities log for finding effective ways in order to rescue traditional crafts, and most important support the human cultural capital that is still involved with them.
The overall objective is to ensure the survival of these traditional crafts, considering them as valuable and promising cultural capital, capable in attracting new human capital in its orders, acting also as a thematic tourism capital, which will provide the region with another advantage in the everlasting fight for tourism attraction and competition. The specific objectives of the action are:
• Investing in handicraft skilled human capital through new strategy of capacity building, in order to train people of the two countries to discover traditional crafts and jobs and sustain their employability as well as strengthening the small craft factories and laboratories already existent, through the reinforcement of their competitiveness, ameliorating their management skills, boosting their creativity and creating a stable network among them (entrepreneurs routes); Increasing employment in the region of intervention through amelioration of the competitiveness and innovation “of SMEs in the sector of traditional crafts as well as promoting and enhancing the process of internationalization and sustain to entrepreneurs to target new transnational markets
• Promotion of permanent cross-border cooperation through the creation of a network among the relevant stakeholders involved in the field of preservation and management cultural heritage, with a focus on traditional crafts of both countries with the main purpose of matching the public and private sector
• Developing the opinion that traditional crafts are cultural capital themselves, while in the same time they are key players in maintaining existing artifacts, while at the same time they can create art and culture from the scratch.
The execution of the proposed project will have several positive results for the whole cross border region. These would be the following:
1. Preserving valuable knowledge which is considered as cultural capital.
2. Supporting preservation of severe cultural value artifacts and products.
3. Fighting unemployment, and providing strong support in a sector with high potentials such as that of crafts.
4. Advancing mobility of cultural capital and workforce, since project’s actions will promote craftsmen mobility in the cross border area.
5. Diversifying and promoting the tourism sector as economic resource proposing different and innovative demands in the labor market of the two territories.
6. Boosting and promoting the process of internationalization of small and medium enterprises of the two territories.
7. Promoting a systemic action through the permanent platform which will integrate the territorial system (environment, landscape and socio-productive systems), the institutional local actors involved in the process (both private and public) and the cultural heritage (knowledge, conservation, management and service fruition).
8. Designing a road map for sustainable local development which will ensure the continuity of the enabled process and will guide and orientate local policies.
In order to increase the employment of the two regions as well as to boost strategies aiming at a more sustainable local development trough long term and permanent policies, the project has the objective of focusing on capacity building actions as vocational education trainings to ameliorate, empower capacities as well as promote the self-entrepreneurship of the target groups and beneficiaries of the action.