Local artisans impress at Kigali Arts Festival despite low turn-up

Local artisans showcased their best handmade crafts at the just concluded 4th edition of Kigali Arts Festival at Marasa Umubano Hotel in Kacyiru.

The annual festival, which features a wide range of Rwandan cultural handmade art crafts by talented artisans from across the country, is a platform to support the creative industry

The aim of the festival is to empower and create market linkages for the local handcraft cooperatives and individuals by connecting them to bigger audiences.

This year’s edition, held Saturday attracted over 30 artisans from across the country who gathered to showcase a variety of their handcrafts and fashion innovation.

Among the exhibitors who showcased their products were individuals representing art houses, including Gama Arts, All African handcrafts, Cowhorn Rwanda, Medicus Mundi, World Vision Rwanda, Jumelage Rhineland Palatinate and Rwanda Clothing.

Other participants included Ben Shop, Og Shop, Ibyiwacu Bamboo, Muhanga Cooperative, Kanyaburanga Arts Center, Murebwayire shop, Mama Kiki shop, Hakim Rygan, Jean de Dieu Shop and Owen Collection.

The festival featured culture-inspired handcrafts such as Imigongo, baskets (agaseke), print screen, jewelries, paintings and banana paper postcards among many other creative arts.

During the exhibition, local artisans had a point to prove to the corporate people from different nonprofit organisations, diplomats  and creative arts enthusiasts who turned up at the festival.

Despite an average turn-up, the venue was a huge attraction for art lovers coming to purchase their favourite handcrafts and outfits.

Some exhibitors who failed to make sales blamed the organisers that they did not advertise the festival enough but remained positive that their business made connections with a wide range number of potential customers.

“I cannot say I sold my products today, which is totally different from the past editions. But at least I am hopeful to get orders for the potential customer we met and exchanged contacts,” said Julie Nikuze, from Dufatanye Cooperative, Byimana.

“Organisers should try to advertise the festival next time because it seems people did not know what is happening here. They should also think about extending the number of days for a more successful festival,” she added.

Handmade African jewelry on display.

Nikuze also suggested that festival organisers should start thinking about organising training session for them where they can exchange creative ideas and skills between themselves.

“The trainings would be an opportunity for us to network, learn from each other’s innovative art skills, and brainstorm new creative ideas which can motivate us to do better in the future.”

“Some of us are experienced and, if given space, we can share our skills with the young generation for a better future of the art industry,” she said. 

Francois Ingabire, the festival organiser, bought Nikuze’s idea, saying that they will see how to integrate training and skills sharing in similar events in the future.

 Ingabire said that despite the low turn up, it is evident that more people, especially from the international community, are getting interested in the arts industry.

“I am aware that people did not come in big numbers because we have limited resources to advertise the festival but, at least, I am very happy that those who are coming for the festival know the value of our local artisan works. It is a sign that Rwanda’s arts industry has a bright future,” he said.

 

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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