Copyright 2019 Accademia dei Georgofili
The artistic crafts are at the heart of our economy and an inestimable heritage of our country, which boasts a unique capacity for artisan production in terms of variety of materials, processes, and creative flair. A resource which, in the last fifteen years, has undergone many changes. While it is true that some districts have radically modified their offer and lost touch with their identities, in many cases, globalisation has spurred the new generations to take a new, original stance with respect to the sector and has given rise to new professional opportunities. Thus, if on the one hand a lack of generational turnover has meant that some artisan concerns have disappeared, on the other, thanks in part to the new technologies, manual work is making a comeback in many areas. The handcrafts sector has been largely overlooked throughout the last thirty years. Whereas France celebrates Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art and promotes an educational system centring on specialisation in craft techniques, and the German and Swiss systems encourage development of manual skills from the earliest school years, Italy is only now experimenting for the first time. Since 2000, the Florence-based Associazione OmA has been drawing attention to what is seen as a progressive loss of identity of artisan knowhow, conducting sensitisation campaigns to promote recovery of the artistic crafts culture, animated by Giampiero Maracchi. In collaboration with OmA, he has set up a permanent study and working table on artistic crafts, where scholars, experts in art techniques and directors of ‘minor’ museums can exchange views. OmA promotes its mission through its periodical OmA, with stories of the materials and the faces of Hand Made. To keep discussion on the theme alive and vibrant, over the years OmA has organised international meetings, participated in many events and organised exhibitions. In 2010, OmA became a ‘Tuscan’ association and later extended its knowhow to the national stage to share significant experiences. The Italia-sumisura.it web portal and the Italian excellences mapping project are tangible examples of OmA’s work. OmA also corresponds with the French Institut National des Métiers d’Art, sharing projects devoted to the artisan workshops, confers a biennial award for excellence in artistic crafts and evaluates the needs of the ‘friends of OmA’ artisans. International cooperation has resulted in creation of the Erasmus+ project, to be headed by OmA until 2019, for valorisation of theatre arts and related crafts; and of a partnership with the Michelangelo Foundation of Geneva to identify creative crafts excellences at the European level. OmA works with the city schools of Florence: the association has been implementing projects that allow students to learn the techniques of various arts and crafts by working alongside artisans and artists. With the Museo Horne, OmA continues its experimentation with families and special groups, such as the art laboratories conducted in language.