A UNIQUE training programme to develop a craft network in Co Kildare was launched last week.
County Kildare LEADER Partnership are funding the project in association with Kildare Co Council’s Local Enterprise Office.
Launched on Tuesday 10 September, the programme is run by arts facilitator and trainer Vincent O’Shea and will run for 24 weeks. During that time, local craft entrepreneurs will learn the skills needed to establish and operate an independent craft network body.
Helen Mulhall, Rural Development Officer with County Kildare LEADER Partnership says that LEADER embraces a “bottom up” approach to development.
“The programme is designed to train craft entrepreneurs to form a committee and determine its own future direction. The idea is to embed the skills in the people most directly involved so that they have the ability and confidence to take complete ownership of the network and bring it forward in the direction they decide is best.”
The need for the training was identified by craftspeople in the county who were working on their high-quality products, developing their own business development and marketing with support from Kildare Local Enterprise Office. They saw a need to work collaboratively and the Local Enterprise Office was keen to support this.
The programme is hosted by Kildare Local Enterprise Office at Áras Chill Dara.Jacquai McNabb, head of Kildare LEO welcomed the programme saying that a craft network will bring exciting opportunities to the many talented craft entrepreneurs in Co Kildare to develop a common brand and home for craft.
Welcoming participants, trainer Vincent O’Shea outlined the programme elements. In his overview he said: “Craft Networks offer makers a distinct and important advantage in developing, marketing and selling work. There is no clear route for establishing a successful network, as each maker is individual and the work can be produced on varying scales, but a framework, which is devised and developed, using the ideas and skills of makers involved is undoubtedly the best possible way to start.”
He continued “A geographical or regional identity provides a focus or “voice” for the group, as it gives each maker an opportunity to tell the story of their work in a specific context, using the landscape, colour and traditions and stories from an area. That basis for a group identity can give a focal point, provide a visual and narrative story for a disparate group, making them stand out, in a busy market.”
The development of a craft trail in Co. Kildare is just one of the options that the network could pursue.