The Handicraft Development/Marketing Departments are combined and are two of the key departments of BAIC.

The Handicraft Development/Marketing Department has played an integral part in handicraft training and production of crafts, gifts and souvenir products since July 2000 when its first training program (Straw) was held in Fox Hill, New Providence. Other programs followed in South Andros and eventually to all Family Islands.

To date, we proudly boast of having graduated over 3,000 trained persons in the handicraft industry.

Mission:

The department’s aim is to ensure that every Island throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas received the opportunity to participate in training programs offered.

Goals:

To promote the handicraft industry through the highlighting of unique Bahamian-made products made in The Bahamas.
To decrease the import market of foreign-made handicraft, souvenirs and gifts.
To have each Island represented by a Handicraft Association that would be responsible for local production.

Overview:

During the year 2010, the department trained over 402 persons as entrepreneurs in straw, shell, coconut, sisal, Art of Painting with Texture, Straw weaving and batik/tie-dye craft products.

Because of the demand for training programs throughout The Bahamas two (2) new programs were introduced in 2010 - Sisal Craft and Batik/tie-dye products.

The Duration for all training programs are ten (10) days. In the Family Islands, they are held consecutively and in New Providence, Monday to Friday, 6:00-10:00 p.m. for two (2) weeks.
Handicraft ‘Straw’ Training Program:
During 2010, five (5) training programs were conducted throughout The Bahamas which resulted in 104 persons graduating from the program, including New Providence, Fresh Creek, Andros and Exuma.

Shell Craft Training Program:
Six (6) training programs were conducted throughout The Bahamas, hence 149 persons graduating. Programs were held in Exuma, Mayaguana, Abaco and New Providence.

Coconut Craft Training Program:
This training program graduated Ninety-two (92) persons which included Mayaguana, Rum Cay, Exuma and New Providence.

Sisal Craft Training Program:
The pilot program was held in Eleuthera in 2008 and New Providence in 2009. To date a total of thirty-six (36) persons have graduated.

Art of Painting with Texture Training Program:
The Art of Painting with Texture replace the Batik/Tie-dye Training Program in 2011. Straw

2011 New Training Programs:
Sea Glass Training Program.

The Wood turning program

Art of Painting with Texture.
This is due to the great success of the current training programs. The department looks forward to them becoming a reality in the year 2011.

Sea Glass Training Program – 2011:
The above successful training program was conducted in Abaco.

Grants for Handicraft Sector:
A successful Grant of $500,000 was given by the Inter-Development Bank (IDB) to (Bahamas Virtual Platform (BVP) for the Handicraft Sector.

Future Development Programs include:

Research and development:
Cultivation of local resources: tree farming of the palm trees and handwoods.
Preservation in the form of land grants where raw materials are found in abundance throughout the Family Islands.
Sponge farming and cultivation of the conch shell .
Statistical database on the impact of the Industry
Bahamas National Craft Association Head Office
Development of Web Page and virtual marketplace
Radio Program & Newsletter developments of handicraft villages throughout the Country.

Export Development Program:
To penetrate the USA and European in consultation with IICA, Caribbean Export Development Agency and the Bahamas Embassies. In USA and Europe discussions are in progress to develop a strategy to achieve this goal.

Schools Career Days:

The Department participates in both Private and Public Schools Career Days throughout the year. This gives us the opportunity to display the wide range of products produced in The Bahamas by Bahamian artisans and to also let the students know of the entrepreneurial and business opportunities available. They are encouraged to consider these opportunities as their career choices. Artisans and Business persons are invited to do demonstrations.

Bahamas National Craft Association (BNCA):

The 6th Annual General Meeting for the Bahamas National Craft Association (BNCA) will be held on October 26-27, 2011. This two-day meeting precedes the 14th BahamArts Festival 2011. This seminar saw delegates from throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The Association also hosted the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers and has applied to become member of this organization. The 6thAGM & the 5th National Craft Week will begin October 23rd 2011.

Handicraft Associations:

During the department’s initial stage, residents from the Family Islands were identified to assist in organizing and obtaining local sponsorship for the training programs.
We are pleased to say that due to the formation of the Bahamas National Craft Association, the Islands’ representatives and persons who have completed the training programs have formed Family Island Associations. There are now (4) Associations in New Providence, Abaco (North and Central), Andros (North, Central and South), Cat Island, Long Island, Exuma, (mainland) and Black Point, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Eleuthera, (mainland) and Harbour Island and Grand Bahama, Acklins, Mayaguana, Crooked Island, Bimini, Inagua. It is planned for all Islands to be represented by a Handicraft Association and that they will be registered for the 6th AGM by October 24th.

Trade Shows:

Caribbean Gift and Craft Show (CGCS):

BAIC in conjunction with the BNCA participated in a fact-finding trip and led a delegation of (15) Bahamian Artisans to Curacao during September 2009. The CGCS is the region’s premier trade show of the Caribbean where the finest quality art, gift craft and fashion items are displayed. The Trade Fair is expected to be hosted in The Bahamas in 2010.

13TH BahamArts Festival:

The 2010 Festival was held October 29 – 31st 2010 at the Fish Fry Site, Arawak Cay where over 100 booths displayed Bahamian-made products. The theme, ‘Endless Possibilities”– Saluting All Bahamians, who made Arts and crafts’ product- brought together artisans from throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

The Festival received a Proclamation from the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, declaring the week October 23rd - 30th , 2011 as ‘National Craft Week’.

The week of activities for BahamArts 2011 will include:
Thursday -Church Service - Honoring of Precious ‘Straw’ Gem – Mrs. Hadassah Rolle-Poitier, age 94.
Monday-Tuesday - two (2) day ‘Decorative Plaiting’ Seminar
Wednesday-Thursday – 6th AGM/BNCA
Friday-Sunday – 14th Annual Trade Fair. The Official Opening Ceremony will also be held on Friday October 28th afternoon at (3:00 p.m.). School Day visits and Buyers’ Day will be held on Friday also. Saturday – Mini Regatta and Battle of the Bands/Live Demonstrations. Continuing on Sunday with a Gala Tea Party and Gospel Concert.

Conclusion:

As in previous years the Handicraft Department has been very productive and continued through year 2011. The Department is very proud to acknowledge that we have strengthen and played a major part in the enhancing the Bahamian Small Business economy by creating hundreds of new business persons. To date, since the inception of our training programs, we proudly boast of graduating a total of persons through our training programs.

There are a total of 60 training programs scheduled for 2011 throughout the Family Islands of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, particularly in the Southern Islands.