In 1996, Carolyn Wilson, (Director of Better World Arts), created a joint venture between Better World Arts (then known as B W Trading) and Kaltjiti Arts, one of the art centres in the isolated Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) in the remote north west corner of South Australia.
B W Trading had been importing handicrafts from the Kashmir region since 1991. Having a strong interest in world arts and crafts, and constantly seeing the commonalities between people and artists across the world, Carolyn saw the potential for combining the original art works from traditional Australian Aboriginal artists with the fine quality handicrafts from the remote Himalayan region of Kashmir. Focusing on fine art instead of predictable commercialised Aboriginal images, a cross-cultural collaboration was born using the powerful images from the traditional artists of the A PY Lands and the cultural craft heritage of the Kashmir region.
2008 - Finalists in the Telstra Business Awards in the categories of Micro-Business Award and Social Responsibility Award.
2007 - Better World Arts has been shortlisted for a Ruby Award (SA) in the Leadership in Arts Enterprise category.
2005 - B W Trading and Kaltjiti Arts won a Judges Encouragement Award (South Australian section) in the Prime Minister's Excellence in Community and Business Partnerships. An encouragement award was given in place of the actual award because the project was deemed too commercial to fit the Awards criteria. At Better World Arts we were very pleased with this result, including the recognition of the commercial success of the venture. We believe commercial success is fundamental to the independence of Aboriginal artists, and it is definitely fundamental to the continuation of the project.
2003 - Kaltjiti Arts won the Upper Spencer Gulf Exporters Award in the Community Contribution section for their participation in the Cross Cultural Project.
The project has become so successful that it is growing to encompass other art centres. Tjala Arts in Amata (also on the APY Lands), already recognized for the quality art work produced in the art centre, has been the first new member of the project. The growth potential of the project is assured by broader participation, as is the sustainability of the project into the future. The expansion will also allow the first participants at Kaltjiti Arts to have greater financial gain.
The project focuses on creating an empowering business model for the artists. Instead of using the usual licensing models, the artists commission the production of their images onto products owned by themselves, through their art centres. As well as the usual royalties a healthy and independent sustainable business is now owned by the artists. Better World Arts has been referred to as "The Body Shop of Aboriginal Art in Australia".
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A little about Asha Handicrafts: Asha Handicrafts provides the security of markets to small scale artisan workshops around India, like ANSA, the soapnut harvesters in Tamil Nadu.
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