CWL Heads West for International Folk Art Market

Held on beautiful Museum Hill, the International Folk Art Market was flanked by the Museum of International Folk Art and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, both operated by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. Now in its 10th year, the Market saw a 20 percent increase in attendance over 2012. In 21 hours, market attendees purchased $2.6 million of artisan products. The artisans receive 90 percent of their earnings maximizing the benefit of attending the market for them and their respective communities. Market organizers have estimated that the artisans can sell more of their product in a weekend at the market than they do in their country in a 15-year period.

The Council participated in private tours of select artisan booths, where they interacted with folk artists from countries such as Rwanda, Cambodia, Haiti and Ecuador. The Council also participated in an invitation-only session featuring the first and former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer—who spoke to the growing importance of artisan economy as a more formal and integral sector that can boost the economic health and growth of local communities. She underscored the fact that in much of the developing world, the artisan sector is the second-most important source of income after agriculture.

Council members attended a special screening of the poignant documentary film by David Evans ʺThe Silkies of Madagascarʺ that tells the story of how preserving an ancient tradition of silk farming, dying and weaving can be achieved by establishing access to global, sustainable, fair-trade markets The creative director of the Market, Judith Espinar, and the U.S. Peace Corps (PC) volunteer assigned to the project in Madagascar are featured in the film. The PC volunteer also accompanied the silk artisans to Santa Fe.

Former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, who represented New Mexico from 1982-2013, and his wife Anne joined the Council for a lively and enthusiastic discussion of the trip over cocktails on Saturday evening, July 13, prior to the trip’s concluding dinner.

Project summary

CWL Heads West for International Folk Art Market | July 2013
Number of Visitors: 12
Regions: Western Hemisphere
Impact Areas: Empowering Women and Girls, Entrepreneurship
Program Areas: Exchanges
Partners: Diplomatic Corps