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This article was published 9/4/2016 (384 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The province’s crafting community is banding together and has picked Winnipeg’s Exchange District to be the new home of the Hub for Craft.
The hub, which will be located in a newly renovated space at 329 Cumberland Ave., will be the new home for the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library as well as the Manitoba Craft Council. The facility will include an exhibition gallery, a shop, library, heritage display and a program space for spinning, weaving and other crafts classes.
The museum is already packing up its 10,000 or so artifacts and exhibits and its 3,000 books to prepare for the move. The Craft Guild of Manitoba began its collection in 1932; it was later passed on to the Manitoba Craft Museum and Library. Those artifacts include a ceramic figurine by Winnipeg artist Leo Mol, glass works by Winnipeg artist Ione Thorkelsson, intricately carved ceramic spindle whorls from Ecuador that are hundreds of years old and an embroidered British waistcoat dated between 1649 and 1658 — the time of Oliver Cromwell.
"We have lots of pieces from the 19th century, a few pieces from the 18th century and lots from the 20th century, and contemporary works as well," Reichert says.
"It’s not large enough to do what we want to do," Reichert said of the museum’s present downtown location on Kennedy Street. "We don’t really have a dedicated exhibition space; it sort of doubles as programming space and meeting space. Everything is just very squished.
"We’ll be sharing the space and doing exhibitions, public programming and some will be truly joint and sometimes it’ll be a craft council exhibit and sometimes it’ll be a craft museum exhibit."
A social to raise funds for improvements at the new facility is being held tonight at the Bord-Aire Community Centre (471 Hampton St.) starting at 8 p.m. Naturally, craft items will be up for auction, and there will be five different booths where aspiring crafters can try out different skills. Tickets are $15.
The museum is kept going from a Winnipeg Foundation fund set up from proceeds raised when the craft guild was disbanded. It receives $3,150 in annual government operating grants, as well as money from donations, memberships and fundraising events such as tonight’s social.
Craftspeople and those who enjoy their work often come out of the woodwork during the Christmas shopping season in Winnipeg. The craft museum hasn’t been able to gain much exposure during that period, owing to the shortage of exhibition space, Reichert says. That’s going to change when it teams up with the craft council at Cumberland Avenue.
"We don’t currently have a good retail situation," Reichert says. "What we’re doing in the new space is to establish a retail space for craftspeople in Manitoba to sell their work in one central place, so we anticipate (the Christmas season) will be busier when we get that going."
The younger generation is known for its fascination with high-tech gadgets, but many young people have also embraced old-school crafting skills such as knitting, sewing and pottery, says Reichert.
"Sometimes it does get taken for granted; (people say) ‘that’s just knitting’ or ‘that’s just quilting,’" Reichert says. "People are drawn to it. There is a desire to create among people and craft is something that is not going away. People are still interested in knitting and weaving and crochet and sewing and pottery."
But those younger generations have to learn these skills, and often they haven’t been passed down from their parents, who were more focused on consumerism, Reichert says.
"I think the generation that grew up in the ’50s and ’60s, that’s where the gap happened," Reichert says. "The people before then, it was a necessity that you knew how to do all these things. The 1950s and ’60s were very much about not doing all that. The skills didn’t get transferred there. They didn’t have that to pass that on to their kids who grew up in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s."
That’s where the programming of groups such as the craft council or the craft museum comes in. But today’s generation of quilters and potters has a new way to pick up a craft, Reichert says.
"YouTube. You’re not going to learn in-depth things from that, but you can get started. There are so many online tutorials. The techniques that have been honed for millennia, the knowledge is still there."