Sri Lanka craft sector wins free insurance cover

Sri Lanka has activated the long awaited free insurance facility to its historic crafts and handicrafts sectors on 6 October. Sri Lanka announced it’s also keen on introducing hi-tech design tools to its craftsmen so that their intricate work could garner better global attention.

“Very soon there will be demands by our craft sector to start work with latest technological advancements” said Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry, Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Cooperative Development, Skills Development & Vocational Training (ICTPDPCDSDVT) Rishad Bathiudeen on 6 October in Colombo. Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the Shilpa Abhimani 2019 Presidential Handicrafts Award Ceremony by the National Crafts Council (NCC) under his Ministry held at BMICH. He was joined by his State Minister Buddhika Pathirana, President of the World Crafts Council-Asia Pacific Region (WCC-AP) Ms Ghada Hijjawi Qaddumi, NCC Chairperson Heshani Bogollagma, HE Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka David Holly, (HE) Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mohammad Zaeri Amirani, craftsmen and artists from Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, Oman, Iran, Bangladesh, and Nepal, Lankan craft winners and expo visitors. HE U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Ms Alaina B. Teplitz also toured the expo stalls of Shilpa Abhimani 2019 on 6 September. Many artists and craftsmen received awards for their outstanding creations at this event. “After years of work, we finally activated the free insurance scheme “Shilpa Suraksha” for local craftsmen, beginning this year. In phase I of this project, annually 5000 Lankan craftsmen will receive free insurance cover. This is the first time in Sri Lanka’s history that our craftsmen get insurance cover, that too free of charge. We thank HE President Maithripala Sirisena for his initiatives to make this long-standing demand by the craft sector a success” said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “Today’s event by NCC showcases the collective and creative side of Sri Lanka’s craftsmen who are involved in this important sector for centuries. There are more than 20000 registered Sri Lankan craftsmen with the NCC. Crafts and designs are a very competitive sector. It is increasingly market driven. Therefore it is important for our craftsmen to be up to date in their work and we need to support them here. With the support of the NCC they are continuously trying to bring out new designs and creations. We can introduce our promising and award winning craftsmen to new technologies which are becoming part of craft design work across the world. Very soon there will be demands by our craft sector to start work with latest technological advancements. Such new technologies, as 3D printing and laser operated design setups can help our craftsmen to go global much faster. With award ceremonies such as the Shilpa Abhimani, I have no doubts that our historic craftsmen will have better market opportunities and a promising future.”

Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) is the provider of the free “Shilpa Suraksha” insurance cover to Sri Lankan craftsmen.

The NCC which tries to introduce new designs and creations to the crafts sector, has also began work to decentralize its activities. A new project commenced to establish District Craft Councils (DCCs) in Sri Lanka for the first time in NCC’s 35 year history. Sri Lanka’s arts, crafts, and handicraft traditions widely differ from region to region, span across many sub-sectors and spring from diverse sources–including pottery, wood-carvings, mural creations, lacquer painting, metal works and jewellery making.