Since 2013, Government of West Bengal’s Department of Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises & Textiles took the initiative of setting up 10 Rural Craft Hubs in West Bengal with the vision of unleashing the potential of the handicraft sector for socio-economic development in the state. 10 Rural Craft Hubs were developed across the state which led to substantial improvement of the targeted outcomes. But, more importantly it led to holistic development and overall happiness amongst the targeted communities.
In 2016, armed with new business linkages, confidence, the traditional artist communities from the Rural Craft Hubs of Sitalpati in Ghughumari, Cooch Behar, Wooden Mask in Kushmandi, Dakshin Dinajpur, Wooden Doll in Natungram, Bardhaman, Dokra in Dariyapur, Bardhaman and Bikna, Bankura and Patachitra in Pingla, Paschim Medinipur. These Folk Art Centres have been built with the support West Bengal Khadi & Village Industries Board on land provided by the community which are now owned and managed by the artists’ collectives. These centers are envisioned as a multipurpose building which on one hand work as a common workspace for the community which doubles up as a space that for display of their artifacts. These are a comprehensive selection of artifacts and vivid information about the origin and evolution of the tradition.
With the arts flourishing, the regions are emerging as destinations of touristic interest. The Folk Art Centers have accommodation facilities for the visitors to stay at a modest price payable to the community. These allow the visitors to be amongst the community and enjoy their traditions in the context of their lifestyle, as the truly living heritages that they are. Guests can appreciate the display along with documentaries on the craft and their making process or spend time browsing through the literature.
These Folk Art Centres may in near future demonstrate best practices for community museums compelling the world to sit up and take notice. For the already happy communities with rejuvenated pride in their own traditions, this will give them further more reasons to rejoice and be proud.