On Tuesday, Cultural Heritage without Borders – Albania (CHwB Albania) in collaboration with the Albanian-American Development Fund (AADF) and the Tourism Improvement District (TID Kruja) opened a unique exhibition with the artistic works of the artisans of the Old Bazaar of Kruja.
The exhibition is the result of months of hard work through the CHwB-Albania project “Artisans of Kruja,” which was financed by AADF. This project aimed to revive craftwork in the Bazaar of Kruja and to create a new line of products that would attract the attention of the local market, as well as cross borders.
The representatives of CHwB Albania, AADF, TID Kruja, the Municipality and the craftspeople of the city, together with their sons and daughters and many visitors were present at the opening of this exhibition. In her welcoming speech, Ms. Arianna Briganti, “Artisans of Kruja” project manager, emphasized that this activity has been challenging and has required the dedication of all those involved in it. Happily, the expectations of the parties from the beginning of the project have now been fulfilled.
“To achieve this wonderful exhibition, we have all together faced many challenges. The seminars and the study trips that we have organized have helped us to realize the importance of identifying the origin of the products in the Bazaar, the steps to promote the craft works, the importance of keeping alive the old heritage, the economic benefits of craft working, etc. Now while we are looking at these products that hold your brand, your effort, your dedication, we all have to feel proud,” said Ms. Briganti.
Then Cultural Heritage without Borders’s Executive Director, Ms. Lejla Hadžić, took the floor.
“We are gathered here to celebrate a moment of success of the implementers of this project, its funders, but above all the success of all Kruja artisans. Each of them has developed an extraordinary work that will have a great success.”
The representative of AADF, Mr. Oltion Dervishi, complimented the opening of such an exhibition. “The AADF chose the city of Kruja, the most visited city in Albania, for the promotion of tourism and to ensure preservation of cultural heritage resources. We have restored the Bazaar, and we continuously provide advisory services and grants to businesses operating in the area. Initiatives such as ‘Artisans of Kruja’ have our institutional support, and I am here to assure you that this support will always be,” said Mr. Dervishi. The Head of TID Kruja, Mr. Idriz Çela, added that the collaboration with CHwB Albania has been fruitful in increasing the variety of products offered, raising the values of the bazaar and adapting handworks to contemporary needs. “We also hope to raise awareness so that the younger generation can come closer to the idea of artisanship and pass on this tradition from generation to generation,” he concluded.
For Ms. Elida Çela, who transmits the best values of the Albanian tradition through traditional costumes, the “Artisans of Kruja” project has given the artisans great ideas. “Besides our continuous work with consultants I’d emphasize the importance of the business trips we had. Meeting the artisans, talking with them, visiting their work spaces and their shops has inspired us to start developing new products and undertaking small improvements in our shops,” she said.
Ms. Kristina Mjeda, an experienced artisan and businesswoman from Shkodra, helped in developing new products to create unique combinations of artisanal souvenirs. “I believe that the bazaar in Kruja has unique values for our country because, besides its historical and architectural landscape, it is enriched by the talented artisans working there. Based on my experience as an artisan and as a businesswoman, I think that the bazaar is on the right path towards further development, through which it will be able to better accommodate the needs of an ever-changing market,” she stressed.
At the end of this important journey, we are delighted to see that “Artisans of Kruja” succeeded in strengthening the artisans’ capabilities by enabling them to access a wider segment of the market. “Artisans of Kruja” project partners believe that it contributed towards a unified and distinctive Albanian brand, which blends tradition and modernity, launching a new face of Kruja.