Expression of heritage and culture through inclusive arts and crafts design: empowering people with disability to contribute to their community in SA.

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Loughborough Design School


The aim of this network proposal is to raise awareness within the communities of Southern Africa of the value of their cultural heritage and provide insights into how these may be expressed through inclusive crafts, leading to sustainable economic development.

Tourism supports one in every 12 jobs in South Africa. It has been recognised that diversification is required in the tourist industry. The rich and varied culture of the Southern African region has been identified as a social resource that is both sustainable and brings a different experience to the tourists visiting the Region. Researchers, commentators and Government offices from Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa have all expressed similar aspirations for the development of cultural and heritage tourism.

However, many countries in Southern Africa are still supported by overseas economic aid to offset need in the poorest communities. Within these poorest of communities, those living with a physical or cognitive impairment are often the most vulnerable. In collaboration with the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) the proposed network will lay the foundations of a bridge between communities and people living with disability within those communities; and, enable dialogue and exchange of knowledge, through culture and heritage, expressed as artefacts. Initially, this exchange will be between five Countries in Southern Africa and the UK.

This first phase of network-building is working towards addresses the United Nations (UN) Sustainable development challenge goals to end poverty, Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all and promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

The proposed network and associated research is aligned with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's compliance statement point (i) of "promoting economic growth and welfare of developing countries". All of the five SAFOD representatives are recipient countries on the DAC list.

Planned Impact

The proposed research network will facilitate communication between individual crafts people, disability support groups in Southern Africa Regions and the UK. The mixed methods approach will enable discussion and exchange of knowledge, skills, techniques, values and cultural perspectives around inclusive craft design and making. A 'bottom up' based approach to the definition of needs and aspiration will lead to a better understanding of the needs and aspirations in the Southern African regions by international aid agencies.

The integration of individuals with disabilities into their communities through arts, craft and design will have a significant impact on their way of life. This will be achieved through reframing the value of individuals in generating income for their family and wider community; resulting in enhanced status.
Highlighting to other parts of the world the rich culture and heritage of the communities, through the artefacts produced, will provide the opportunity for sustainable economic development.

The needs requirements and aspirations of the communities will be presented to potential interested crafts and associated academic partners in a one-day workshop, held at the Loughborough University campus in London. The report, associated research and conference papers will act as a resource on which craftspeople, supported by academic partners, will identify future projects. The heavy emphasis on dialogue and exchange of knowledge and culture matches the overall aim of the Network proposal.

A longer-term stakeholder engagement plan will be developed by the partnership to ensure the appropriate individuals are liaised with to support wider impact of the project both within the partner countries and beyond in order to achieve impact in the wider developing world.

The network will expand to include other developing countries and become a long-term global network, providing templates and exemplars for ways of working for people living with disability and helping to reframe perceptions within their communities.


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Title Crafts abilities Webinar, Loughborough University in London, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London 5th July 2018 
Description The Webinar was the last activity in the week-long Network event involving delegates from the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled, Crafts Council, Loughborough University and Aston University. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The film features interviews with the presenters and provides an indication of the need to expand dialogue between artisits and crafts people in the UK and Southern Africa; and, the importance of taking what is the novel area of inclusive arts and crafts forward and expanding links between the UK and the region. 
Title Rita Malangeni: Crochet, 
Description Rita Malangeni is a one-handed crochet crafts person who was filmed during the visit to Workshop 305 and who took part in the week-long Network event involving delegates from the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled, Loughborough University and Aston University. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The slow motion film shows the speed and accuracy of her heritage skill that impressed all the artists and craftspeople at the Workshop in London. 
Title Skill share, Loughborough University in London, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London 4th July 2018 
Description This workshop activity was part of the week-long Network event involving delegates from the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled, Loughborough University and Aston University. The film describes the workshop, where the delegates from SAFOD shared their needs and aspirations with other UK-based artists and craftspeople. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The similarity of needs and aspirations of artists and crafts people from the UK and southern Africa, disabled or able-bodied, was clearly vocalised by the delegates. 
Title Visit to Workshop 305, Wimbledon, London 3rd July 2018 
Description The visit to the inclusive arts and crafts workshop was the first activity in the week-long Network event involving delegates from the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled, Loughborough University and Aston University. Workshop 305 Community Interest Company is a social enterprise in Wimbledon that works with people that have learning or physical disabilities. The well equipped, spacious studios offer a stimulating variety of art and craft activity, a friendly and supportive environment and the space for a group of individuals to share a sense of community, purpose and achievement. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The workshop enabled delegates from SAFOD to see the work of other artists and craftspeople, discuss their approach to arts and crafts, as well as provide a demonstration of their own heritage skills. 
Title Webinar presentations - Crafts abilities Network - Day 3 
Description Crafts abilities Network Day - 3, Webinar event was held in the Board room within Loughborough University in London, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, on the 6th July 2018. Four speakers presented to the on-line webinar: - Caroline Jackman, Talent Development Manager, Crafts Council, UK. - George Kayange, Programmes Director, Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) - Dr Tim Whitehead, Lecturer, Aston University. - Dr George Torrens, Senior Lecturer, Loughborough Design School, Loughborough University. The topics were all focused on the resources and opportunities available for inclusive crafts to both disabled and able mind and bodied craftspeople. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The four speakers provided different viewpoints on the topic of inclusive arts and crafts. They highlighted challenges within the United Kingdom and Southern Africa for people wanting to practice arts and crafts, but also possible solutions to them. 
Description The network event was successful in raising awareness of inclusive arts and crafts in Southern Africa, ad connecting with several artists and crafts people at different levels of arts and crafts, from recent graduates to experienced practitioners and tutors.
The most significant achievements from the award include:
• Connections made in the United Kingdom and Southern Africa.
• Identification of common needs and aspirations for United Kingdom and Southern African Artists and Craftspeople.
• The opportunity for further knowledge exchange between the UK and SA arts and craftspeople relating to inclusive heritage craft skills and expression of cultural heritage through artefacts.
• A better understanding of preferred communication formats for people in Southern Africa.
The award objectives were met through the following:
The AHRC sponsored network activity that involved disabled arts and craftspeople from the Southern Africa federation of the disabled (SAFOD) and those from the crafts organisations and individuals from the UK highlighted several aspects to be celebrated and challenges to be addressed:
1) The needs of disabled artists and crafts people are very similar in the UK and Southern Africa, for able-bodied and disabled alike;
2) The need to identify a market for their artefacts that will pay a fair price for their work;
3) Making it easier to produce artefacts;
4) Training of new disabled artists and craftspeople;
5) Celebrating the quality of ideas and concepts produced, as well as the heritage crafts used to create products and works of art;
6) Ways of reframing society's viewpoint of them (as 'no-person' disabled and in some cases because they are female), viewing their work more inclusively; and,
7) Exploiting the many opportunities to share knowledge, skills and ideas through dialogue using different communication formats and technologies.
The network event highlighted the expertise of the craftspeople Shadreck Ndlovu, from Botswana, and Rita Malangeni from South Africa, who were representing their region. The envisaged need to help with coping strategies was not required as they had already developed effective coping strategies for the available resources within their community. They also demonstrated their capability in running their own businesses within their national and local Government structures.
Although Mussa Chiwaula, Batik painter, was using cultural references in his work it was clear that there was an opportunity to demonstrate to most craftspeople in southern Africa, such as Rita and Shadreck, how to exploit their rich cultural heritage. Currently, they use their heritage craft skills in a way closer to that of a commercial product designer and don't always include their local cultural references in their designs.
The delegates visited the inclusive arts and crafts workshop, Workshop 305, where both UK artists and crafts people discussed technique, but also the cultural significance of the artefacts they were producing.
The live webinar was not well attended online, but the presentations were recorded and will be linked to the 'Craftsabilites' website for future promotion. From the webinar, a post-doctoral researcher already working in the field offered their support wanted to take part in any future activities.
Due to the delayed date of the network event, delegates were able to visit the 'New Designers exhibition', London and meting with graduate designers from a range of backgrounds. A number of these graduates were actively requesting to participate in future collaborative activities in Southern Africa. Tutors from higher education institutions who taught programmes involving crafts also asked to be involved in future projects.
Several different channels of communication were applied within the network project. These included:
a) Mobile phones to record and keep in direct contact with SAFOD crafts representatives;
b) Use of Facebook to contact a larger population;
c) Live webinar of the event;
d) Production of Videos to deliver the outcomes of the network event; and,
e) A website to act as a focal point for the outcomes.
The use of mobile phones was helpful, with the key driver being cost of data use on a given network rather than telephone conversations. It was highlighted that most people use texting and free WiFi, where possible, to communicate. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing were found to be very helpful in establishing a common language and terminology at the start of the project. Facebook was preferred over specific websites or other social media.
Exploitation Route The findings are currently being taken forward. A proposal for follow-on funding has already been submitted to the AHRC and been successful. The proposed will help to promote the outcomes and start to build capability and capacity within SAFOD to deliver more. The Crafts Council have already indicated they would promote the outcomes beyond their current support of presenting at the webinar event. The Southern Africa Assistive Technology Expo (SAATE) event is now being held in Namibia, 24th-26th June, 2020, in Windhoek, Namibia, with the collaborating Chairty on this proposal, Southern African Federation for the Disabled (SAFOD), coordinating the event with support through the subsequent funding and external sponsors from Southern Africa.
The principle investigator has a list of UK crafts and other artists who would travel to Southern Africa to support any initiative. The individuals on the list will be invited to contribute to the 'Craftsabilities' website and continue discussion via specific groups on social media.
Sectors Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The delegates visiting from the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled have had their awareness raised about the opportunities for inclusive crafts to reframe the perceptions of local communities towards 'No-people', disabled people and some sections of the female population. The network has provided a range of communication conduits for the discussion of inclusive arts and crafts. These include the 'Craftsabilities' website and associated Facebook page, webinar and exhibition. As the first initiative of its kind in Southern Africa, the network is in its early stages of influence; however, the delegates from SAFOD have promoted this option with Governments across the ten countries of the Southern Africa. The Office of the Deputy Minister responsible for Disability Affairs in the presidency of Namibia, researchers from the Centre for Technology & Disability studies, University of Washington and the Global Disability Innovation Hub, UK, are supporting the SOUTHERN AFRICA ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY EXPO (SAATE), 23-25 October 2019 , Safari Hotels, Windhoek, Namibia. Follow-on funding has been received to enable SAFOD and the associated team from Loughborough University and Aston University to promote the outcomes of the Network and provide additional opportunity for craftspeople across all sixteen Countries of Southern Africa to connect with each other and craftspeople in the UK. This will augment the social media sites and Crafts Abilities site to collate and publish best practice of inclusive crafts.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Expression of heritage and culture through inclusive arts and crafts design: empowering people with disability to contribute to their community in SA.
Amount £44,308 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/R004307/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2017 
End 11/2018