In a world that is rapidly modernising, the preservation of cultural heritage and traditional art forms is more important than ever. Banglanatak, a social enterprise based in West Bengal, India, has taken up this mantle.
With a mission to foster inclusive and sustainable development using culture-based approaches, Banglanatak has been instrumental in transforming lives and reviving dying art forms.
In this blog post, we will explore the history of Banglanatak, the impact of its work on communities, the challenges faced by these communities, and a special emphasis on the artisans and art forms supported by the organisation.
Banglanatak was founded in the year 2000 by a group of like-minded individuals who believed in the power of culture as a tool for development. Over the years, the organisation has achieved several milestones, including being recognized by UNESCO as a best practice for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. It has also expanded its reach to several states in India and has worked on numerous projects focusing on cultural tourism, folk art, and craft promotion.
Work and Projects
Banglanatak undertakes a plethora of projects aimed at community development through cultural interventions. Some of the notable projects include:
Art for Life (AFL): A flagship program that aims to empower traditional artists by providing them with training, marketing support, and opportunities for cultural exchange.
Musical Ecotourism: Promoting tourism in rural areas by showcasing the rich musical heritage of the region.
Craft Hub: A project aimed at reviving traditional crafts and providing artisans with the tools and knowledge to make their craft sustainable
Impact on Communities
The work of Banglanatak has had a profound impact on the communities it has engaged with. Through its various projects, it has been able to:
Aid economic empowerment: Banglanatak.com equips artisans with essential skills and facilitates access to markets. This dual approach enables artisans to monetize their crafts sustainably, contributing to community-wide economic upliftment
Lead cultural preservation: The organisation actively documents and promotes traditional art forms, preventing them from fading into obscurity. This not only safeguards cultural heritage but also instils pride among artisans.
Foster social Inclusion: Utilising art as a unifying medium, Banglanatak.com organises community engagement programs that foster participation and belonging across social strata, promoting societal cohesion and mutual appreciation of diverse cultures.
Challenges Faced by Communities
Access to Capital
One of the primary challenges faced by artisans is access to capital. Many artisans come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and do not have the financial resources needed to invest in raw materials, tools, and other essentials for their craft. Without adequate capital, they are unable to scale up their operations or innovate.
Another significant challenge is the allure of modernization. The younger generation, often exposed to a globalised world, is more attracted to modern professions and urban lifestyles. The traditional arts and crafts, which require a significant amount of time and patience, may not seem lucrative or appealing to them. There is a real threat of these art forms dying out.
Many traditional art forms rely heavily on natural resources. For example, Madhur Kati requires grass and bamboo, and Dokra craft requires metal. With the rapid depletion of natural resources and environmental changes, artisans are finding it increasingly difficult to source the raw materials needed for their crafts. This not only increases the cost of production but in some cases, it also threatens the very existence of the art form. Sustainable practices and alternative materials need to be explored to ensure that these art forms can continue without causing harm to the environment.
Banglanatak.com has been a torchbearer in the realm of cultural preservation and community development. Through its innovative culture-based approaches, it has not only managed to safeguard various art forms but has also empowered the communities that carry this heritage.
The road ahead is fraught with challenges, but with organisations like Banglanatak.com, there is hope that our rich cultural tapestry will continue to thrive and evolve.
Rang De X Banglanatak partnership
Rang De Social Investments would support 4 major art forms namely - Dokra craft,
Katha embroidery, wooden dolls and Madhur Kati.
The funds raised would be used by artisans to procure raw materials required for the production of these artforms. The timing of this initiative is crucial as it is planned for the upcoming festival season where these artisans can really earn a great income. By supporting these art forms, Rang De social investors are not just preserving cultural heritage but also providing livelihoods and a sense of pride to the artisans. This initiative will help in ensuring that these ancient art forms continue to thrive and do not get lost in time. It is also an invitation for us to appreciate and support the rich cultural diversity that is woven into the fabric of India. To invest in the West Bengal Folk Handicraft Artists Fund, click here.