Central Asian Crafts Support Association’s Resource Center in Kyrgyzstan


RCA School of Communication researchers and practitioners Tom Simmons and Eleanor Dare visited Kyrgyzstan between 25th February and 5th March 2020, co-leading five days of workshops with Kyrgyz crafts leaders and practitioners in the capital Bishkek, the North-Eastern area of Lake Issyk-Kul and the Southern city of Osh as part of a pilot project for the Crafting Futures Central Asia programme. 

The focus, scope and methodology of the project were developed with local organisations, crafts people and leaders including the Central Asia Crafts Support Association’s Resource Centre in Kyrgyzstan (CACSARC); British Council teams in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan; staff and students of Osh State University;

The project was informed by a scoping visit undertaken in November 2019, during which initial investigations, discussions with c. 120 Kyrgyz craft practitioners, leaders and experts, and collaborative information sharing about craft, its cultural, economic and educational contexts in Kyrgyzstan and relationships with other parts of the world were undertaken. Many of the people during the visit articulated a desire to develop skills associated with communication and collaboration, enhance networks, and exchange ideas for the future of crafts in Kyrgyzstan.

During the pilot project, three workshops were developed and held in urban and rural locations to further explore the key themes that were discussed during the scoping visit. The workshops involved crafts leaders, practitioners, teachers, researchers, students, policy makers, public officials and entrepreneurs from across the country with expertise in diverse areas of practice including textiles, leatherwork, woodwork, yurt making, jewellery, performance, animation and media, and related areas of education, tourism and policy making.

(From pilot project report written by researcher of RCA School of Communication - Tom Simmons)



CFCA-Pilot Project Report.pdf



Our activities during the second phase of the Crafting Futures Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan programme (January to April 2021) have focused on the development of a national collective craft mapping and training guide initiative. During this part of the programme we have formalised partnerships with key organisations contributing to the project and collectively established the focus and scope of the mapping and training approach. Through ongoing discussions and a roundtable meeting involving key partners we have developed, tested and refined a set of survey questions and methods. We have also established a data collection, analysis, evaluation and dissemination methodology. This will be reviewed with our data collection partners during an upcoming workshop with the Crafts Council of Kyrgyzstan (12 April 2021). We suggest the next phase of the Crafting Futures Central Asia programme in Kyrgyzstan (May to December 2021) should continue with implementing the survey and collecting and analysing the data. From this we plan to develop the online training guide, building on the survey findings alongside co-creating stories with craft practitioners about craft practices and concerns using the intergenerational storytelling approaches we tested during the pilot project. We also plan to develop an open-access web platform and sustainable communication plan to co-locate the statistics and stories generated through the research, and to make the mapping project and training guide available to the public.

(From 2nd Phase project report written by researcher of RCA School of Communication - Tom Simmons)



CFCA Phase2 Report.pdf


During the final year of the Crafting Futures Central Asia programme (end of 2021 - 2022), we intend to work with craft practitioners and organisations in Kyrgyzstan to co-create stories about contemporary craft practices, developments and concerns using augmented and extended reality techniques, as well as animation and 3d modelling, skills which many younger craftspeople expressed a strong interest in learning. Through this we intend to establish a particular focus on generating opportunities for female artisans, supporting the development of communication skills, creative content, new networks and audiences. We also plan to establish a project website to house the crafts communication framework that has been developed during the project.