Perth named UNESCO City of Craft and Folk Art

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UNESCO has announced Perth is to join their Creative City network

UNESCO has announced Perth is to join their Creative City network as a City of Crafts and Folk Art – the first in the UK.

After a highly competitive bidding process, Perth will join the established global group of 50 countries from across the world in celebrating craft, including Jaipur, Cairo and Carrera.

Perth’s application was written during the pandemic, led by Perth and Kinross Council and with extensive consultation amongst craftspeople and makers. Further work with the creative and business sectors will take place in early 2022.

It was also announced that Belfast will join the network as a Creative City of Music.

The Creative Cities Network

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities which recognise that creativity is a major factor in their development. The network membership lasts forever, as long as the city continues to meet the UNESCO requirements.

The Perth bid focused on the importance of craft to the history and heritage of our city –it was known as ‘Craftistown’ from the early 16th century because of the importance of trades and its Incorporation of Guilds. It detailed how craft is still essential today with a wealth of creative talent across the whole area and the growing creative industry sector.

The bid also highlighted the climate change challenge and how we plan to include craft as part of our plans to reuse and recycle and meet our Carbon Neutral commitments.

Being a UNESCO city has huge positive impact on a city and the surrounding region; it is a world recognised badge of quality for the area, a driver of funding streams and a way of creating new commercial and learning opportunities for creatives and makers to live and work in.

The bid centred on Perth itself but the designation will include the whole of Perth and Kinross.

Perth joins the Scottish cities of Dundee, City of Design; Edinburgh, City of Literature and Glasgow, City of Music. Across the rest of the UK there are 11 (Depending on the outcome on Friday) creative cities which include Manchester, City of Literature and Bristol, City of Film.

Perth & Kinross Council leader Councillor Murray Lyle said: “This is a tremendous accolade for Perth and I am delighted we are now part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, as well as the UK’s first City of Craft and Folk Art.

“There are wonderful examples of craft all around us in Perth and Kinross and I am sure this award will lead and inspire even greater creativity.”

Perth & Kinross Council Chief Executive Thomas Glen said: “Having recently joined the Council I have been struck by the rich history of craft in Perth and Kinross which stretches back hundreds of years and remains hugely important today.

“We are delighted to be joining UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network and becoming the first City of Craft and Folk Art in the UK.

“I am sure this will help inspire everyone in our creative industries for generations to come too.”

UNESCO Praises Perth

James Bridge, Chief Executive and Secretary-General, UK National Commission for UNESCO, said: “Many congratulations to the city of Perth which has today become the UK’s first UNESCO Creative City of Craft and Folk Art! Welcome to the local, national and global UNESCO family.

“Known for over 500 years as a centre of craft production and trade, the city’s new UNESCO status pays homage to the heritage of Perth and carries forward the traditions of its makers and practitioners into the future.

“Perth Creative City, by joining the growing family of Scottish UNESCO designations and using the UNESCO network and name, will help make an even more positive difference to the lives of its communities.

“UNESCO works to help build understanding and the defences of peace in the minds of men and women and it is wonderful that the people of Perth and its craft and folk art are both globally recognised and contributing to this goal.”

Karen Merkel, Non-Executive Director for Communication & Information, UK National Commission for UNESCO, said: “The UK National Commission for UNESCO is delighted to welcome Perth to the family of UK UNESCO Creative Cities, which now counts four cities in Scotland.

“Located in the heart of Scotland, Perth’s status as an historic centre of excellence for the trade and production of crafts has been recognised on a global scale for the first time.

“The inhabitants of Perth, especially those who make their livelihoods in Craft and Folk Art, can celebrate that, through this UNESCO Designation, their enduring heritage of making, educating and celebrating Craft and Folk Art can continue long into the future.”

16 November 2021 By Oliver Johnstone