© Reginald Sarmenta/British Council

Monday 14 June 2021

June 2021 − Metro Manila. The British Council announces the launch of ‘Weaving Futures – Cultural exchanges and design collaboration,’ an action research project led by the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, presided by HRH The Prince of Wales, in partnership with the Enrique Zobel Foundation and Philippine Women’s University. 

Through a series of consultations, Weaving Futures will map the communities’ distinct cultural heritage, relationship with nature, indigenous knowledge and vision for the future. The result will be a new design process to help broaden perspectives on artisanship and design, as well as renew and refresh weaving practices. This initiative will also open up opportunities for working collaboratively across communities with designers, artisans and makers in the UK and the Philippines. 

The research project will engage four weaving communities in the Philippines: the Kiyyangan Weavers Association in Kiangan, Ifugao; the Kulibanbang Weavers Association of Bontoc women now residing in La Trinidad, Benguet; the Serukadang Menuvu Tribal Organization of Bukidnon; and the Sunrise Weaving Association of Ibaan, Batangas.

‘At The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, we offer a wide range of education programmes that help ensure that traditional arts and skills are preserved and are able to continue to enrich our changing world. We are delighted to partner with The British Council, the Enrique Zobel Foundation and Philippine Women’s University on this new cultural exchange and collaborative design project to support historic weaving communities in the Philippines,’ says Dr Khaled Azzam, director of The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

‘Weaving Futures’ responds to findings of a British Council study, Crafting futures — sustaining handloom weaving in the Philippines. The report described craft as a ‘sunset industry’ despite its contributions to women empowerment, cultural expression and sustainable development. 

‘The industry’s potential may still be unlocked; and for that we need to develop a nuanced understanding of the challenges faced by artisans, mostly women and mothers, and how they are impacted by global crises like climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic,’ says Pilar Aramayo-Prudencio, Country Director of the British Council in the Philippines. ‘I am delighted that, through this project, we are able to support meaningful collaborations that celebrate culture and innovation. This is the essence of our mission as a cultural relations organisation.’ 

Launching digitally on 16 June, ‘Weaving Futures’ is also supported by partners on the ground who will ensure that participating groups in rural areas can easily access and partake in the project. The British Council’s Pilar Aramayo-Prudencio and the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, Dr Khaled Azzam, among others, will grace the launch event.

Notes to Editor

About the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts 

The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts offers postgraduate programs, short courses, and outreach projects towards ensuring that traditional arts and skills enrich our changing world. Their workshops are designed to bring participants together from across communities to facilitate cultural understanding and provide insight into the principles that underpin the traditional arts. The objective is to enable communities to pass on this knowledge, keeping alive traditional methods to sustain future generations. Learn more about them here.

About the Enrique Zobel Foundation 

The Enrique Zobel Foundation focuses on upholding quality public education system through school infrastructure development, teacher training, student health and nutrition, learning support, and other special projects. It is the home organization for the Mercedes Zobel Collection of Indigenous Philippine Textiles and the Mercedes Zobel Cordillera Study Collection. Learn more here.

About the Philippine Women’s University 

The Philippine Women’s University is a pioneer in progressive education developed from and for the Philippine democratic experience. It is based on a unique approach described as education for democracy, or ‘learning to be free’. The University’s core values are fostered through a curriculum centered on holistic character formation, the preservation of cultural and national heritage, family solidarity, ethical professionalism, and service to the country.  Through “Edukasyon Mula sa Kalooban” program, the university collaborates with the Calamian Tagbanwa in Palawan towards the articulation of their indigenous knowledge systems and practices.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, and through broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. www.britishcouncil.org