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.