Opportunities for Pacific Artists in PT & I Creative Arts programme

The profile and export value of art created in the Pacific Island countries is growing internationally through the support of the Creative Arts program of the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest (PT & I).

PT & I is the international trade and investment promotion agency of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat which is based in Suva, Fiji.

The 2011 PT & I Annual Report which was released recently highlighted that the Creative Arts program helped facilitate export sales of AU$112,344 for local artists from Pacific Island countries (see supporting case studies in the Annual Report).

“By encouraging investment in the creative arts sector, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest is helping to place a commercial value on the Pacific Islands community’s traditional knowledge and cultural expressions. We are working with creators and artists in the region to create new export networks and connect with international buyers,” said Ms. Ruth Choulai, Creative Arts Manager for Pacific Islands Trade & Invest’s Sydney Office.

Established in 2009 as a sub-program of Export Services of the PT & I, the Creative Arts program recognises the economic value of the creative arts sector, particularly to rural communities and women artisan groups in the Pacific.

Ms Choulai said: “Increasing exports in creative and indigenous knowledge based products assists in the preservation and continuation of traditional craft techniques as well as providing home-based income. This is particularly important for increasing women’s participation in trade. For example, in Vanuatu, women make up 88 percent of the handicrafts industry and 96 percent of open-air vendors catering to tourists.”

Through consultation and continuing dialogue with key entities in the Australian market, the Creative Arts program identified a market for traditional knowledge-based art produced by contemporary creators from the Pacific Islands. There is particularly strong interest amongst Australian buyers for home ware or artisan wares including textiles, basketry, string bags and hand-carved products. In 2011, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest expanded the Creative Arts program to engage a wider variety of Pacific Islands artists and creators. The program has created business links between producers and buyers, built greater awareness of target market needs and promoted Pacific Islands products through targeted activities, such as Maketi Ples, an art and artisan exhibition held in Sydney.

“This project fits with our vision of working together with Pacific Islands businesses to facilitate international opportunities in order to create greater prosperity for the people through more sustainable communities,” said Ms Choulai.

Pacific Islands Trade & Invest is actively supporting a number of Pacific Islands businesses particularly through event participation and advisory services. For example, a key focus of the agency’s work in Papua New Guinea has been on supporting local artists such as Ömie Artists, Goroka Bilum Weavers Cooperative, Sai Arts and Vinz B through the creative arts program.

ENDS.

For media enquiries contact Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer on phone: 679 331 2600 or email: johnsonh@forumsec.org

Note for Editors:
Pacific Islands Trade & Invest is the international trade and investment promotion agency of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, based in Fiji.
With Offices in Auckland, Beijing, Geneva, Sydney and Tokyo, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest is the only agency entrusted by the Pacific Leaders to develop, grow and promote businesses in the 14 Pacific Island Forum countries.
With the aim to improve the livelihoods of people in the Pacific Islands, the agency works with the private sector to build a better future through more sustainable communities and greater prosperity. Key focus areas of Pacific Islands Trade & Invest’s work include: export, investment, tourism promotion and creative arts.
www.pacifictradeinvest.com