“This time the sector is on a better footing, it is valued differently,” Mena, a 57-year old resident of Chimbarongo, south of the capital Santiago, told Xinhua.

Many families in Chimbarongo make their livings out of weaving wicker goods, from furniture to decorative items.

“From both the local and central governments, we are seeing a different perception, we are seeing cooperation,” said Mena, as he wove an item in his workshop near downtown area.

With Chile’s economy registering a slower growth for the fourth year in a row, in part due to low international prices of copper, its main export, officials are again seeking to diversify national production, including handicrafts.

“We have made various efforts to revalue Chilean handicrafts,” says Maria Veronica Attom, regional director for the National Council on Culture and Arts.

“In the case of Chimbarongo, we have placed its products on circuits and promoted partnerships,” Attom said.

The Economy Ministry is providing artisans with business training and basic marketing tools, while the Ministry of Culture is promoting handicrafts by raising public awareness of the country’s folk art heritage.
42-year old Miguel Ortega, who won top prize in an international wicker and weaving tournament in Poland last year, said that the industry had progressed with the government’s help.

“Twenty years ago this craft was dead, not because there were few artisans. Just the opposite, there were thousands of them, but the product was so poor in quality that it lost its value,” said Ortega.

Culture Minister Ernesto Ottone announced last week that Chile will be the special guest country at the 2017 contemporary handicrafts biennial Revelation held in Paris.

The event, Europe’s largest of its kind, will gather more than 6,000 artisans from around the world and more than 33,000 visitors, including collectors, interior designers and gallery owners.

“It’s a very important invitation for Chile,” said Ottone, “and an important incentive for the country’s program to diversify the economy.”

The next step, said Attom, will be to promote more sophisticated handicrafts with greater added value. Enditem

source: Xinhua


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