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The Art & Craft of Surviving 2020 - By Jessica Goldbogen Harlan

Forging New Connections
For designers and consumers, being able to invest in and
support artists is crucial. " In this age, it defines who we are,
and what's possible with our own hands, " says Carey. As
such, the Canadian Crafts Federation (CCF) had planned the
year 2020 to have a yearlong series of events to support
Canadian artisan communities. A national arts service
organization that works with territorial and provincial craft
councils and counts museums, galleries, cooperatives and other
institutes as its affiliate members, CCF's mission is to create
connections and champion craft. Its anticipated Craft Year 2020
was designed to bring attention to all the different ways that
craft is a part of communities, through events and activities like
book launches, exhibitions, workshops, and more. Craft Year
2007 had 712 events, and Craft Year 2015 had 818.

If anything, this year has underscored the importance of
creating connections. " In North America we're all reacting to
so many factors, " she says. " It's the most tense time in our
history. " Climate change has caused flooding and affected
particularly northern cultures, such as the Inuit communities,
by disturbing their seasons and influencing how people
engage with their land.
" The pandemic hit everyone even harder than we ever
imagined, " says Black. " With shops closing, limited access to
studios and education, restrictions of holiday markets... there
is a lot of fear around what the holiday season is going to look
like and how it will affect craft. "
This fall, CCF launched its Buy Craft Online program. Long
before the pandemic, CCF already had been working on a digital
program, and in fact its national conference, held in March-
mere days before borders were closing and airlines cancelled
flights-was focused on digital technology. " Essentially, we
wanted to make sure that the craft that is being made is easier
to access for the general public, " says Black. " The work is still
being made and the artists are still out there, you just have to
walk through a different type of door. "

Maegen Black, director of the CCF, says the pandemic threw
everything into a tailspin. Since most of the in-person events
were cancelled, the event planners instead started focusing
on how craft affects everyone's life-even in a pandemic.
" People started to take on craft as a mental health exercise;
they're stuck at home and needed something to do, " she
notes. " While we focus on professional craft, we also see the
benefit of this activity in everyone's lives. It can bring a lot of
solace to people. "
And artists have risen to the occasion: Black points out a quilt
maker who started marketing a quilt-making kit that people
could buy and attend an online session with her-a sort of
virtual quilting-bee experience. Other craft artists have been
getting on Twitch, the live-streaming video platform, so their
customers can peek inside their studios and processes. " There
will always be a place for face-to-face engagement with art,
but we are finding new ways of doing this now, " says Black.

" The pandemic hit everyone even harder than
we ever imagined. With shops closing, limited
access to studios and education, restrictions of
holiday markets... there is a lot of fear around
what the holiday season is going to look like
and how it will affect craft. "
- MAEGEN BLACK, CANADIAN CRAFTS FEDERATION

Brandon Vukelik is a
Saskatchewan glass
artist who specializes
in scupltural pieces
and hollow vessels.
(Image: Canadian Crafts
Federation)

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i + D - November/December 2020

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