Fostering social inclusion through internships in arts and crafts

One of the priorities of UNESCO in the field of culture involves encouraging traditional and new creative expressions through the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. UNESCO’s actions relating to crafts and design are part its mission for the development of cultural and creative industries.

Established by UNESCO and the Culture & Diversity Foundation, the ‘Travel to Learn Arts and Crafts’ programme gives students in applied arts, from modest backgrounds, the opportunity to study abroad. And it also enables French scholarship students in their last year of study to discover the expertise of developing countries and students from these countries to discover French know-how.

In April 2013, the French students returned from training abroad while the foreign students arrived in France. Nicolas returned home to France from Buenos Aires in Argentina and Argentine student Luciana just started an internship in Moulins (France).

Nicolas, a graduate of the engraving department of the Estienne School in France, was selected to participate in the programme on Equal Opportunities in the crafts. He was in Buenos Aires, from November 2012 to the end of March 2013 to work on engraving and printing images in the workshop of Maza Zulema.

Luciana studies costume design at the Escuela de Arte y Oficios del Teatro Argentino de La Plata. She arrived in France on 16March. Luciana also participated in the Equal Opportunities in Crafts Programme and is currently in training at the National Center of Costume (CNCS) in Moulins.

Both students agreed to answer a few questions to share their experience.

Nicolas, what most impressed you during your engraving internship in Argentina?

The generosity of the artists in Buenos Aires. I developed more contacts in four months than in two years in Paris.  Although it is clear that until then I was a student while in Argentina I was free to work at numerous workshops. The ease with which I was able to integrate into the world of printmaking was quite surprising.

Luciana, how is your internship at CNCS going thus far?

My internship involves preparing costumes for ballets at the Opera and / or for the cinema, taking into account the fact that the suit represents the body and the soul of the artist. We must respect the figure of the artist and to adapt the model accordingly so that the costumes suit the artist as best as possible.

What inspires you in your work?

Nicolas: First, I would say that it is very closely related to the illustration, the imaging of an idea, a concept. Second, the traditional craft aspect of this work attracted me and won me over. I appreciate all manual labour, any contact with material. Engraving and printmaking combines the tactile and the visual. Finally, I really like studio work, particularly the interaction between the different people involved, the exchange of ideas and sharing of expertise.

Luciana: What inspires me on a day-to-day basis are the challenges, the future, knowing that we do not know everything. This requires me to continually explore, observe, test and be very critical with myself.

Do you think the internships within the Equal Opportunities in Crafts Programme will help you later in your studies or your career?

Nicolas: Absolutely! Thanks to this programme I developed a large circle of contacts to Buenos Aires and when I left, almost all workshops where I worked told me: "With or without the programme, you're welcome to come back at any time. " For my part, I have one desire: to return to this beautiful city to work on a long-term basis. Zulema Maza, my main contact, told me also he was willing to take me back into his studio if I return to Argentina. So I think to start my career in Argentina in the near future.

Luciana: Yes, of course, because there are always things to learn. Having the opportunity to do an internship at CNCS made me aware of the importance of conservation work costumes. Indeed, French costumes are much older than those on which I used to work. These are almost relics!

What can we wish you for the coming years?

Nicolas: Success abroad maybe!

Luciana: I do not know yet. Having spent a month in Moulins, I realize that I still have much to learn. Working in Teatro Argentino de La Plata allowed me to organize joint projects with Moulins such as an exhibition on the French theatre costumes. La Plata does not yet have a costume museum; it would be a good opportunity to create one, and to allow people to visit the theatre.


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