Kala Raksha Trust

KALA RAKSHA was conceived as a new model for development through handicrafts: the interlinking of two parts, preservation of age-old traditions, and income generation via contemporary work.

The KALA RAKSHA project began in Kutch in 1991. It focused on a group of embroiderers in Sumrasar Sheikh, a village 25 km north of Bhuj. These people had migrated from Nagar Parkar in Sindh in 1972, bringing with them some fine traditional embroideries as well as their skills in suf and kharek embroidery styles With generous support from patrons of traditional arts, a permanent collection of traditional embroideries was begun. A group of twenty artisans was organized and guided in producing suf embroidered items for sale.

In 1993, KALA RAKSHA was established as a registered society and trust. Comprising artisans, community members, and experts in the fields of art, design, rural management and museums, KALA RAKSHA today works with nearly 1,000 embroidery artisans of seven ethnic communities.

The Center
Kala Raksha Center in Sumrasar Sheikh village, designed by Ahmedabad architect R. J. Vasavada, follows KALA RAKSHA's philosophy of innovation within traditions. The buildings are based on the traditional round bhungas, but use contemporary materials and technology. Like the traditional structure of artisans' villages, the Center is modular, comprising separate "bhungo" units arranged with local landscaping to create a living-scale, inviting atmosphere. Office, workshop, Resource Center and Museum are all computerized. These, the shop and guest house are all fully electrified with photovoltaic solar power. The Center serves as a model for contemporary technology for village artisans.

Aims and Objectives
KALA RAKSHA means "Art Preservation." The Trust aims to preserve traditional arts of the region by making them culturally and economically viable. Trust activities are artisan driven. Without artisans there can be no traditional arts. As far as possible, positions from office managers, to coordinators to tailors are drawn from the immediate local communities. The Trust provides training as needed to make this possible. KALA RAKSHA encourages community members to work together toward the goal of self sufficiency. Generating income through their traditions, community members can realize their strengths and maintain their identity as they develop.

Activities
KALA RAKSHA views process as important as product. Income generation, preventive health care, basic education, and group savings are all integrated in a comprehensive development programme.

 

Income Generation

Provide opportunity to earn through traditional art to nearly 1,000 women artisans in 25 villages.

Capacity Building

Have conducted design workshops with reputed designers over the past 15 years.  Women are encouraged to innovate on their own traditions. Have trained local people as professional staff, and 20 village people in professional tailoring.

Museum

1997 established Kala Raksha Textile Museum.  Today the excellently documented collections are digitally catalogued and archivally housed.

Education

Since 1997 conducted functional literacy/ awareness workshops with artisans.

Health

Since 1997 conducted preventive health care/ education workshops.

Micro Credit

Have established self help savings groups among artisans in 6 villages.

Earthquake Rehabilitation

Post 2001 Kutch earthquake, independently raised funds and coordinated the reconstruction of an entire village (124 homes) and three sub centers.  Provided financial assistance on matching grant basis for one year to all artisan constituency.

Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya

Established the first Design School for Artisans, with financial support from The D C (Handicrafts) Government of India, UNESCO and private donors- 124 students have completed the one year course.

 

Funding
From the outset, KALA RAKSHA's income generation project has been self sustaining. Beginning in 1993 with just RS 43,000, the Trust generated sales of nearly RS 7,000,000 in 2008-09, with minimum subsidy. However, being a not for profit based organization, KALA RAKSHA requires financial assistance to support ongoing social welfare programs and capital based expansion such as construction of new facilities.

Post the 2001 Kutch earthquake, KALA RAKSHA independently raised funds and coordinated the reconstruction of an entire village (124 homes) plus the establishment of three sub centers. In addition the Trust provided financial assistance on the basis of matching grants for one year to our entire artisan constituency.

Over the years, Kala Raksha has gratefully received funding from:
Aid to Artisans, All Together Now International, American India Foundation, Bestseller Foundation, CARE, COMO Foundation, Development Commissioner, Handicrafts (GOI), Eileen Fisher, Ford Foundation, HEMLATA Foundation, India Sponsor Foundation, Kernel Trust, National Bank for Rural Development (NABARD), READ, Sir Ratan Tata Trust, UNDP, UNESCO, Unniti Foundation (Delhi), Winrock International

Materials available

  • Brochure on Kala Raksha
  • "The Kala Raksha Story: Nurturing the Art of Craft," an 18 Minute DVD Film
  • "Artisans Design! The Launch of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya," a 35 minute DVD Film
  • "The Stitches Speak", a 12 minute animated documentary using artisans' narrative work
  • "The Masters' Voices", a 45 minute DVD film on design in traditional textiles of Kutch
  • "Entrepreneurial Development Programme Conducted at KALA RAKSHA in March 1998" 28 minute video
  • Catalogue of Permanent Exhibition in Museum
  • Product Catalogue
  • PR File including various articles on Kala Raksha