Offaly ready to embrace Year of Craft 2011

OFFALY people and local craft makers are being invited to celebrate Year of Craft 2011 by participating in a wide range of events being planned both locally and nationally.

OFFALY people and local craft makers are being invited to celebrate Year of Craft 2011 by participating in a wide range of events being planned both locally and nationally.

The Crafts Council of Ireland (CCoI) and Craft Northern Ireland (Craft NI) have designated 2011 as Year of Craft to mark the 40th anniversary of the Crafts Council of Ireland. A diverse range of dynamic events and programmes at home and abroad are planned to showcase the very best of craft made on the island of Ireland.

As well as presenting events and exhibitions, Year of Craft 2011 will raise awareness of the important contribution that the craft sector makes to the economy and promote working in craft as an exciting and viable profession.

The Crafts Council of Ireland has confirmed that President Mary McAleese will be Patron of Year of Craft 2011. The Year of Craft 2011 programme was formally announced by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe.

Highlights of Year of Craft 2011 include the hosting of the Annual General Assembly of the World Crafts Council - Europe, in June, giving the industry an opportunity to promote itself both at home and internationally.

A public event with the acclaimed British ceramicist Edmund De Waal whose family memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes has received widespread acclaim

An An Post issue of special stamp series celebrating Contemporary Craft in Ireland

Crafted Creatures” A major exhibition and workshop programme at The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children in Temple Bar, will run from February to April

Special events marking Year of Craft at the Kilkenny Arts Festival and at other arts festival around the country will also feature.

It is also planned to have craft initiatives in many counties around Ireland, including Offaly, modelled on the highly successful Cork Craft Month. These will be partnership initiatives with County and City Enterprises Boards, LEADER, tourism agencies and local authorities working together with local craftspeople in promoting craft.

Crafts Council of Ireland Chairman, Laura Magahy, said that Year of Craft 2011 will allow everyone to join in the celebrations of our proud heritage. It will also give the island of Ireland an opportunity to reflect on and pay tribute to our great craftspeople past and present.

“We look forward to working with the Crafts Council of Ireland’s 63 member organisations and over 2,200 registered craft enterprises throughout the island of Ireland to make this a very special year. We are privileged to have President McAleese as Patron of Year of Craft 2011 and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Craft Northern Ireland in promoting both at home and around the world the very best of craft this island has to offer.

“Our craft tradition goes back centuries and is something special and unique. We would encourage consumers and visitors alike to continue to support Irish makers in order to help craft enterprises sustain and grow their businesses during these tough economic times.”

Minister O’Keeffe, said his Department was pleased to support Year of Craft 2011.

‘This initiative offers a strong platform for the crafts industry which has an important role to play in our economic recovery. Our craft sector is innovative and creative and its contribution to jobs, tourism and “brand Ireland” cannot be overstated.

‘The craft sector is a vital component of the culture of entrepreneurship the Government wants to foster as our economy recovers,’ said Minister O’Keeffe.

He noted that recent Crafts Council of Ireland research shows that employment in the crafts sector is estimated at 5,771, with potential to increase to 7,589.

‘Over half of all craft businesses are based in rural communities where they are providing local jobs for local people and the Government will continue to support them in whatever way we can,’ said Minister O’Keeffe.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. Enterprise Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and the Office of Public Works are all partners in promoting the Year of Craft initiative. The Irish Times is a media partner with CCoI for Year of Craft 2011 and CCoI has secured support from RTÉ under the RTÉ Supporting the Arts scheme.

Further information on Year of Craft 2011 can be found at www.craftinireland.com