Arts and Crafts Village
The concept of culture and its role in society and its impact differ in their basic activities from one country to another in the attainment of civilization. Therefore, radical differences in cultural policies arise. Some of these policies consider culture an important developmental tool. Others look upon culture as mere entertainment and a luxury, especially in developing countries. Culture in Palestine is the legacy that makes up a large portion of the cultural identity that interacts with all the classes of the Palestinian society. It conveys an image that reflects the suffering and oppression of the people caused by the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The social and political oppression dates back to the Nakba of 1948, which paralyzed any creativity and prevented any cultural activity from developing. After recovering from the shock, Palestinian intellectuals started to feel their reality. Creative and intellectual energies ensued. These were aided by the various cultural centres in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Municipality of Gaza in particular worked on consolidating and promoting Palestinian culture. It made the construction of cultural centres a priority as it supported the Arts and Crafts Village, the Children’s Welfare Garden, the public library, the Holst Cultural Centre and the Rashad Ash-Shawwa Centre.
Since its establishment in 1998, the Arts and Crafts Village was able to revive cultural awareness in a short period of time. The main objective of the Village is the comprehensive, regular and periodic documentation of creative art in all its forms. The Village interacted on a large scale with the class of creative artists from different nationalities. It organized around 100 exhibitions for creative art, ceramics, graphics, carving and others. It extended a helping hand through the organisation of artistic and cultural workshops in order to make young people express their desires and artistic potential. The Village exerted efforts to document a child’s relation to cultural and artistic desires and hobbies through its various programmes, the most important of which is the development of drawing in schools. It has been repeated this year for the fifth time in a row. Around 10,000 children from the north and the south of the Gaza Strip have benefited from it.
The programme is run in coordination with the graduates of fine arts who are trained by a Scottish expert. Later, these trainers go to various schools to teach what they learnt. The Village supervises them for three months. At the end of the programme, summer camps are held for the talented children where they express their oppressed energies and themselves through drawing on glass, making candles, carving on gypsum and recycling materials from the environment into works of art. All these activities are crowned by an exhibition of the works of the children.
An important part of the Arts and Crafts Village are the craftsmen workshops that it houses. Craftsmen are encouraged to set up their workshops in the Village so that they can showcase the handicrafts that they learnt from their fathers and which has been passed on through the generations, from father to son. Work is continuing on upgrading culture in Gaza city in order to contribute to its overall development.
Articles Photos by Ali Qumbargi