The messenger logo

The 2nd International Festival of Traditional Crafts Workshops in Rabati Castle

By Messenger Staff
Monday, July 1
On June 28-30, The 2nd International Festival of Traditional Crafts Workshops was held in Akhaltsikhe Fortress (Rabati), Samtskhe-Javakheti region. The event was organized by The Georgian State Museum of Folk and Applied Arts and The Georgian Heritage Crafts Association through support from USAID/Zrda. The festival was additionally supported by The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia; Akhaltsikhe Municipality; GIZ; The Adjara Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports; Georgia’s Municipalities.

A three-day festival brought together more than 150 craft makers of 75 workshops from all over Georgia and abroad to show the diversity of crafts fields and to promote master craftsman and their skills. By bringing together 118 local and 27 invited artisans as well as 11 international experts in the medieval setting of Akhaltsikhe Fortress, the festival transformed Akhaltsikhe Fortress into a vibrant and fascinating destination, where the visitors had a unique opportunity to observe and participate in making process, get acquainted with the works of the finest artisans in the region and the variety of crafts techniques.

“I am thrilled to be here, and I am amazed by the beauty, warmth, and richness of cultural heritage this country has to offer. Every region in Georgia has its unique history, culture, and traditions, which make up the mosaic of this country’s cultural heritage. Heritage crafts play an important role in helping to shape the identity of a destination, and in doing so, bring economic benefits and employment opportunities to their communities. USAID recognizes the opportunities tourism brings to vulnerable communities throughout Georgia and is proud to support this festival through our USAID/Zrda Activity”, Peter Wiebler, USAID Mission Director told The Messenger on Saturday.

Festival Activities included: Open workshops, master-classes of different craft fields, such as ceramics, woodcarving, natural dyes, carpet/rug weaving, felt making, jewelry, musical instrument making, etc. by Georgian and invited craft makers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Romania, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc.; Crafts Fair; Educational programs; Exhibition from Museum collections, and Special Info Tour for Tour Operators to boost the potential of artisanal workshops as a destination and similar.

As a home to several most significant cultural heritage sites and natural attractions, this region has the potential to be one of Georgia’s premier tourism destinations. The local government and I personally will do our best to promote regional tourism development, attract more tourists and generate more income for the local communities,” commented Deputy Governor of Samtskhe-Javakheti Region, Zurab Khachidze.

To promote the crafts sector development in its target regions, USAID/Zrda through the Cultural Heritage Crafts Association developed and implemented Enhancing Artisans/crafts Makers’ Business Skills program in its target municipalities, and supported artisans through training and technical assistance to develop new market-oriented products; facilitate linkages with other industry actors to expand retail presence; and transform their workshops into tourism destinations for the economic sustainability of craft businesses so that artisans are marketed alongside the product.

Last year, Zrda supported 1st International Festival of Traditional Crafts Workshops, the big success of which encouraged the project to continue its support to the festival in 2019 too.