The Regional Restoration Camps of the Foundation “Cultural Heritage without Borders -Albania” (CHwB Albania) reached for the first time the cities of Krujë and Shkodër. 23 young professionals and 9 academics and trainers from the Balkans and Europe, got together in Krujë to study and practice in the 28th Regional Restoration Camp on “Arts and traditional crafts”.
In Krujë the participants learned about traditional crafts working techniques. Many of the old bazaars are facing the need of better conditions for the local craftsmen and altogether there are many challenges in offering a broader spectrum of typical products to appeal the visitors. Together with the craftsmen of Kruja’s bazaar, the camp participants learned more about these challenges and discussed about the possible solutions. The practical crafts during the camp included different traditional techniques as felt, embroidery, filigree etc. The work was leaded by the Kruja’s craftsmen themselves.
Among the novelties of the Camp in Kruja was the presence of regional and European success stories of the craft entrepreneurship. Ana Dias, the founder of the concept and of the shops network “Alma Lusa” (The Portuguese soul) said that she was amazed by the bazaar and the Kruja’s craftsmen. “You have beautiful products, a very charming bazaar and craftsmen who do an amazing work.Your culture has great values and it has to be inherited in the best way possible through arts and crafts.” Ms. Dias encouraged the young men and women of the camp to apply new design techniques by preserving the culture and promoting their cultural heritage.
For Vesna Avramovska, the Head of the Shkup’s Craftsmen Organizations, the traditional crafts have to be protected and revitalized and this is one of the reasons why the 28th regional camp took place in Kruja. “It is a very important organization, because one of the most crucial matters today is to include the youth in the heritage issues, so that the crafts do not get forgotten and that tradition is passed down to generations”, concluded Ms. Avramovska.
For the Camp coordinator, Mirian Bllaci “This activity enriches the cultural agenda not only in Albania, but also in the Region. This is the first camp about arts and traditional crafts and we have many participants from different countries of the Balkans. Kruja has one of the most famous bazaars in Albania and at the same time an economical potential that has not been exploited properly. We are here to raise the awareness of the new professionals and to give concrete help to heritage”.
The participants Edona Thaçi from Kosovo and Blerina Llalla from Albania chose to work in the filigree atelier. “I had no occasion to see the process before, nor to touch the materials or to learn something more. During this camp days we have done a great job”, says Edona. Blerina thinks that “it is crucial for the youth to touch the work of several generations to understand the process, the encountered difficulties, but also the beauty of creation.”
Another important novelty was the inclusion of the topic of “growth mindset” with the Swedish educator Daniel Dahlstrom.
In the mean time, CHwB Albania organized another restoration camp in Shkodra, where 22 participants from Western Balkans shared their experiences about “the interpretation and management of the cultural heritage”.
The camp of Shkodra was focused at interpreting cultural heritage, at how to reach the minds and hearts of the people through heritage and how to make them rediscover and evaluate heritage. The interpretation field is quickly gaining importance in the museum and heritage studies, thus the camp aimed to help the curators and managers to better communicate the values of their local heritage. This approach aims to strengthen the connection of the people with their country, by bringing the past to the present through interactive experiences of learning and encouraging critical thinking.
Diana Walters, works as a museum and heritage consultant and she is specialized in peacemaking, intercultural dialog, management and professional development. She said: “I am a historian and I have a 30 years’ experience in museums. In Shkodra I feel like home, because the cultural heritage joins us, regardless our origin. We should bring the heritage closer to the community. I come here as a lecturer, but I will go back with a lot of love about the culture, the food and the people.” Diana has worked in more than 20 countries and she says that she will take with her a great deal from the participants, the citizens and she will return home spiritually more enriched.
Anisa Lloja, 29th Regional Restoration Camp coordinator, says that the camp activities were focused on historic areas and museums of the city of Shkodra. “22 participants were divided into groups to better know the museums and apply the right principles to make these museums more interesing, bring them close to the community and make them an active part of the city life”.
Inesa Sulaj, a participant of the camp, emphasizes that this has been an extraordinary experience. “We have learnt quite a lot about the re-conceptualization of the museums, their management and their organization. I worked in the phototeque of Marubi Museum.”
The Regional Camps of Restoration represent a successful model of training, started in Albania and organized in four other Balkan countries, with a wide spectrum of participants. Through this educational and awareness raising platform, CHwB Albania encourages the evaluation, appraisal and care about the local heritage. The camps are organized in collaboration with the Culture Ministry and the University of Tirana, and with the financial support of the Swedish government and the Albanian-American Development Found.