In one of its earliest and best-known achievements, 20 years ago Dastkar was asked to develop a rural income-generation programme in the villages around the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, with a special focus on women.
The Dastkar Ranthambore Project became a fine example of Dastkar’s work on reviving crafts and establishing craft groups with unique identities. In this instance, Dastkar’s efforts towards revitalising local craft communities resulted in the revival of existing local skills and traditions in the Sawai-Madhopur district of Rajasthan, an area where craftspeople had almost given up their craft traditions and were working as agricultural labour.
With the creation of a Crafts Centre, the Dastkari Kendra, Dastkar organised workshops for the local craftspeople incorporating contemporary design, product development and production systems training, including costing and pricing. With the assistance of designers from NID, NIFT and other external consultants, skill development workshops were run covering tailoring, cutting and sizing, indigo and natural dye training as well as improving firing and glazing skills for local potters.
Dastkar carries out its mission through advocacy with governmental, non-governmental & foreign agencies; as a consultant, evaluator & resource provider to craft groups.
Dastkar assists craftspeople through support service activities such as capacity building workshops, skills training, collaborative design innovation and product development; helping them transform traditional skills into products that have a contemporary appeal, thereby providing craft communities with a source of permanent employment and sustained earning.
Dastkar provides marketing platforms to craftspeople, thereby empowering the crafts community to bypass exploitative middlemen and directly operate in the market. Dastkar bazaars and exhibitions bring together craftspeople, producer groups, environmental organisations, social activists & cultural performers with urban consumers, students and international buyers.