India. Kerala: Kerala besides its food, beaches, and famous actors, is a land of artistic people. It wouldn’t be wrong in saying that the people of Kerala have art in their blood. With the variety of arts and handicrafts and the use of varied colors, detailing, and liveliness, one can find anything and everything in its craft. Interestingly, handicrafts in Kerala are so popular that a whole festival is dedicated just to them.
To showcase Kerala’s vibrant art and cultural heritage, the first phase of Kerala Arts and Crafts Village (KACV) at Vellar near Kovalam, as a sprawling campus was inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan.
In the ceremony, he said, “It is important to tap the possibilities of online marketing for handicraft products to preserve and promote the state’s widely-acclaimed art and craft traditions and enhance their global appeal. The project is aimed at preserving our traditional arts and handicrafts. By lending a unique appeal to arts and crafts, we have to raise them to global standards.”
Talking about the online marketing of these products, he added, “It is also important to explore the opportunity of online marketing of our handicraft products. KACV would be firmly marked on the global tourism map and due to Covid-19, the sector has incurred a loss of Rs 40,000 crore. The government is committed to bringing about growth in the tourism sector without harming the environment.”
Spread around eight acres of panoramic locale, KACV has been designed and implemented by Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society Ltd (ULCCS Ltd) for Kerala Tourism Department. Thus, it is an ideal destination for visitors and art buffs alike to enjoy the best of Kerala’s traditional, folk, and ethnic art, craft, and performing traditions.
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The facility has modules for over 750 craftsmen and artisans excelling in a variety of traditions to work on their concepts while being looked on by visitors.
The artists include those working on a variety of materials like wood, bamboo, reed, coconut shells, palm leaf, coir, and cotton. More than 50 crafts are presented in 28 studios with facilities for production, display, and sales. Along with this, the campus has dedicated spaces for artisans and craftspeople, mostly from south Kerala, to work and sell their exquisite and authentic products. Visitors can buy souvenirs and curios to add to their collection.
Personalities like Shri Gopi Master, who was conferred with Padma Shri for his contributions to handloom, and KR Mohanan, who had won the Shilpa Guru Award will be present.
An annual international theme-based art and craft biennale, which will feature paintings, terracotta, handloom, sculptures, and reed and bamboo products along with workshops, will be conducted in the village. Craft food festivals (in April) and arts festivals (in September) are other highlights of the village calendar. Besides, an annual international handicraft products festival is being planned for December. Offering glimpses of Kerala’s history and heritage, cultural programs, and light-and-sound shows will be held at the venue regularly.
Setting up an art and craft research center and sale outlets for architects and interior and fashion designers have also been planned at the campus, turning it into a world-class art and craft complex.
Developed on the model of Sargalaya at Iringal in Kozhikode district, Kerala Arts & Crafts Village has a design strategy lab, game zones, handloom village, reading rooms, food courts, walkways, and rest areas, making it an all-inclusive leisure spot.
“Kerala Arts and Crafts Village have all the potential to be a hub of cultural events and spectacles for domestic and foreign tourists. It can also be an academic destination on traditional arts and crafts,” said Tourism Director Shri P Bala Kiran.
The key features of the complex include an amphitheater, museums, studios for craftspeople to work, and an art gallery, enabling the visitors to have a hands-on feel of the rich and diverse heritage of Kerala handed down through centuries.