Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit November 19, 2012 - 6:20 am

Mass-produced items should not be sold at Iqaluit craft fairs, NACA chair says

“Mass-produced items next to original works can discourage artists and seamstresses”

SAMANTHA DAWSON
At the 2011 Christmas arts and crafts sale in Iqaluit, shoppers look at a selection of manufactured jewelry. But the sale of manufactured items at arts and crafts fairs discourages local artisans, says NACA. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
At the 2011 Christmas arts and crafts sale in Iqaluit, shoppers look at a selection of manufactured jewelry. But the sale of manufactured items at arts and crafts fairs discourages local artisans, says NACA. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

There are too many commercially made, mass-produced products such as cell phones put up for sale at Iqaluit craft fairs, said Elisapi D. Aningmiuq, chairperson of the board for the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, in a letter dated Nov. 15.

Craft fairs in Iqaluit were originally started to make available a variety of Inuit garments, art pieces and accessories made by seamstresses and artists in the community, she said.

But over the past few years those items have been replaced by designer jeans, belts, hats, clothing and even cellular telephones.

“These mass-produced items do not compliment the artistic and handicrafts skills and can even have a negative impact on the arts and crafts sector insofar as selling inexpensive mass-produced items next to original works can discourage artists and seamstresses from producing quality handmade items,” said Aningmiuq, a sewing artist.

Selling mass-produced items at craft fairs “leaves artists and crafty people left behind, which ultimately goes against the purpose of hosting arts and crafts sales in the first place.”

Aningmiuq calls for a need to separate handmade arts and crafts from items that would be more appropriate for a flea market type of sale, “which are misleadingly advertised as arts and crafts sales.”

“We want to see the focus of arts and crafts sales steer away from mass-produced items and return to products that are unique, genuine and made-in-Nunavut,” Aningmiuq said.

NACA said it acknowledges that some local organizations, such as high schools, do sell mass-produced items to fundraise for events.

“Note that we are referring specifically to individuals selling mass-produced items for profit,” she said.

But Aningmiuq isn’t alone: many others share her concern, said NACA’s Pascale Arpin. 

“Our goal is to open a discussion on the issue in order to come to a positive solution for everyone involved in these fairs and in the arts and crafts sector,” Arpin said.

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